By Philip Rucker and Abby Phillip
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – President Donald Trump, whose dark, guttural demonization of Muslims was a trademark of his nationalist campaign, arrives here Saturday hoping the Arab world will listen to a new message.
Embarking on his first overseas trip as president, Trump plans to do a rhetorical pirouette with a speech Sunday in the birthplace of Islam preaching religious tolerance and inviting Muslims to join the United States in the fight against global terrorism.
Never mind that as a candidate Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, or that he warned of a “Trojan horse” filled with refugees slaughtering innocent Americans, or that he proclaimed, “Islam hates us.”
The Saudis are preparing to welcome President Trump like a conquering king when he steps off Air Force One for his first stop of a high-stakes, marathon tour through the Middle East and Europe.
The capstone of Trump’s 48 hours in Riyadh will be a speech he delivers to the leaders of about 50 Muslim countries at a summit here Sunday afternoon. Trump’s advisers have previewed the address as a clarion call for the Islamic world to partner against evil.
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster described it as “an inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology and the president’s hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”
“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners,” McMaster said.
Trump’s apparent about-face on Islam is only the latest example of him reversing his campaign position or rhetorical tone since being elected president.
“He has changed his position on lots of matters . . . so there’s no particular reason he can’t say whatever he wants to say,” said Elliott Abrams, a former national security official in the George W. Bush administration….