Trump devotes self-regarding speech to cheering crowd while NRA chief Wayne LaPierre says midterms represents the procession for our freedom
Donald Trump attempted to issue a rallying cry to Republican with a wide-ranging political stump speech at the annual NRA meeting in Dallas on Friday, stimulating clear he would fight November’s midterm elections with a staunch defense of gun rights.
” We cannot get complacent ,” Trump said.” We have to win the midterms .”
Though hundreds of thousands of Americans marched for stricter firearm laws after the Parkland school shooting, the only march that matters is” the procession to the polls on election day”, a defiant Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice-president, told NRA members. He announced that the group now had” approaching 6 million active members “.
Election day 2018 is” the marching for our liberty “, LaPierre said, to a roar of support from the audience. Less than two months ago, school shooting survivors organized hundreds of thousand of Americans at hundreds of protests across the country in what they called a March for Our Lives.
Though Republicans have majorities in both houses of Congress, Trump said that was not enough to pass the legislation he wanted. Increasing Republican representation in Congress in November’s midterm elections was essential.
Trump said he was warned earlier: “‘ You know, going to the NRA convention and speaking today, that will be very controversial, it might not be popular .’ You know what I told?’ Bye-bye, gotta get on the plane .’ You have to do the right thing .”
” We’re all opposing combats, but I love fighting these battles ,” Trump said, to cheers, after a long description of what he called the “witch-hunt” of the investigation into Russian election interference and links between his campaign and Moscow.
An enthusiastic crowds repeatedly delivered standing ovations as Trump praised his policy accomplishments, and discussed low unemployment, his praise from Kanye West, and his negotiations with North Korea.
” Weakness gets you nuclear war ,” Trump said, to cheers.” That’s what get you nuclear war .”
More than 70,000 NRA members were expected to attend the convention. But the event also depicted protests, including one staged by Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the 17 people shot dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February.
Before Trump’s speech- as the president told reporters on Air Force One he had attracted a” record mob”- and after, NRA leaders conveyed anxiety of such post-Parkland activism.
” What they actually want is for you to be afraid to publicly associate with this organization ,” Chris Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, cautioned the auditorium early on Friday afternoon.” They don’t want you to go to a Friends of NRA dinner. They don’t want you wearing an NRA hat or putting an NRA sticker on your vehicle or truck. In the face of their bitternes hatred, there has never been a more critical time for us to stand tall .”
It was a strikingly defensive note for a leader of an organization that has played offense for years, railing against Democratic legislators, liberal billionaires and the Hollywood stars who advocate for gun control, even as it has succeeded in blocking any stricter federal gun laws.
LaPierre, the NRA’s brash leader for decades, also described the NRA as under assault in a new way.
” The fact that you’re all here means you must have missed the news. Haven’t you heard the NRA’s in big trouble? We’re finished? We’re on the run? We’re losing ?” LaPierre asked the crowd.
” If we’re so dead, why are so many thousands of you here in this hall right now ?”
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