Transcript Of Trump's Liberty University Commencement Speech Shows That He Can't Quite Shake Off His Critics

As president, Donald Trump often finds himself on the defensive — about his policies, his unorthodox administration, and his personal conduct, among other things. But on Saturday morning at Liberty University's graduation ceremony, Trump was on friendly ground. The president delivered the commencement speech at the fundamentalist Evangelical college in Virginia, and after a tough week in office, it was a welcome respite. But true to form, the transcript of Trump's Liberty University commencement speech indicated that amid the congratulatory words and the light-hearted quips at graduates, he simply couldn't quite take his mind off work.

Trump was introduced by the school's founder and evangelical titan Jerry Falwell, Jr., who, according to The Washington Post, helped Trump scoop a staggering 80 percent of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election. Falwell hailed Trump's commitment to Christian values — specifically, his religious liberty executive order and his pro-life Supreme Court justice nominee pick, Neil Gorsuch — and applauded him for how he has handled "enduring relentless and often dishonest attacks from the media, the establishment on the left and the right and from academia." Falwell also presented Trump with an honorary doctorate from Liberty. It was Trump's first-ever commencement speech; he was only the second sitting president to speak at a graduation ceremony of the fundamentalist evangelical college.

Trump began his speech with a classic Trump-ian congratulations to the Class of 2017. "This is some achievement," he said. "We always set records. We have to set records, we have no choice.." He also encouraged graduates to stay true to their convictions — in his own image, that is. "Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage," Trump said. "They don't have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it. It's called the road less traveled."

In his speech, Trump took the opportunity to criticize the political establishment in a tone slightly reminiscent of his raucous campaign speeches, calling Washington, D.C. "broken." And his unlikely election victory — reportedly surprising even to him — seemed to be the running theme in his advice to Liberty graduates.

"The more that a broken system tells you that you're wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead," Trump urged. He also joked about those who doubted his long-shot presidential bid. "The class of 2017 dressed in cap and gown, graduating to a totally brilliant future. And here I am standing before you as President of the United States, so I'm guessing — there are some people here today who thought that either one of those things, either one, would really require major help from God. Do we agree? And we got it."

Read the full text of his speech: