At NRA Conference, Trump Bathes Audience In Conservative Shout-Outs

President Donald Trump speaks to the National Rifle Association Leadership Conference, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Evan Vucci/AP

President Donald Trump told the NRA’s annual conference Friday that “the eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” part of a a speech that was light on policy but heavy on conservative shout-outs and campaign rhetoric.

The conference convened at the Georgia World Congress Center, just a few miles south of the June 20 congressional run-off between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Georgia’s former Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel. Trump noted the impending election early in his remarks.

“She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote,” he said of Handel. “You know, she’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care and he’s for open borders — lots of crime — and he’s not even able to vote in the district that he’s running in, other than that, I think he’s doing a fantastic job. Right? So get out and vote for Karen.”

The endorsements didn’t stop there: Trump praised Singer Lee Greenwood (“We’re all very proud, indeed, to be an American.”); Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, whose ouster was reported Friday (“Those people have been fantastic, they’ve been real friends.”); Executive Vice President of the Federalist Society Leonard Leo (“They really helped us out.”); Govs. Rick Scott, Phil Bryant and Nathan Deal; and Sens. David Perdue (R-GA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) (“Like, dislike, like,” Trump said of his relationship with the latter).

NBC’s Ali Vitali reported a sighting of Donald Trump Jr. in the audience, despite the Trump scion’s pledge to stay away from government.

Trump also took aim at a potential political rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time,” he told the group. “You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you’re going to say, ‘No, sir, no thank you, no, ma’am,’”

“It may be Pocahontas, remember that,” Trump said, using a derogatory nickname referencing Warren’s past unsubstantiated claims that she was part-Cherokee, which she said were based off of family accounts.

The speech was celebratory, even triumphant, though it frequently veered abruptly away from the truth.

“The NRA protects in our capitals and legislative houses the freedoms that our service members have won for us on those incredible battlefields,” Trump said. “And it’s been a tough fight against those who would go so far as to ban private gun ownership entirely.”

No national office-holding Democrat has proposed banning private gun ownership.

“But I am here to deliver you good news and I can tell you that Wayne and Chris have been fighting with me long and hard to make sure that we were with you today, not someone else with an empty podium,” Trump continued, recalling that he was the only candidate for president to address to conference in 2016.

“Believe me, the podium would have been empty.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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