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Trump on 'tough' phone calls to foreign allies: 'Don't worry about it'

President Trump seemed to acknowledge a recent string of "tough" phone calls to foreign allies, saying at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday that they were part of what he characterized as an effort to straighten out a troubled world.

"Believe me when you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it," Trump said.

The comments came after the White House and the Mexican government denied reports by the Associated Press and Mexican media that he threatened to send U.S. troops to Mexico to fight "bad hombres" during a call with President Enrique Peña Nieto.

A separate report in the Washington Post described a testy call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in which he angrily denounced a refugee agreement with the government and ended the scheduled hourlong call less than halfway through.

The calls have caused alarm, given the importance and history of America's strategic alliances.

Trump cast the calls as part of a hard-charging approach that he argues is necessary. "The world is in trouble but we're going to straighten it out," he said. "That's what I do."

Trump also performed another presidential first on Thursday: boasting about his television ratings on "The Apprentice" during the Prayer Breakfast while mocking former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Presidents have attended the annual breakfast since the Eisenhower administration, usually using it to express humility. Trump was introduced by Mark Burnett, the show's producer, who also produced a miniseries series, "The Bible."

"They hired a big big movie star," Trump said of Schwarzenegger, who replaced him on the show. "We know how that turned out. The ratings went down the tubes. It's been a total disaster.

"I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings," he added.

But there were also serious moments, in which Trump promised to fight for religious liberty proposals sought by Christian conservatives, spoke about the sacrifice made by the military and of the emptiness of material wealth in comparison to spiritual richness. He said many of his wealthiest friends are "very miserable, unhappy people."

"The quality of our lives is not defined by our material success but by our spiritual success," he said. "I tell you that as somebody who has had tremendous material success."

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