Donald Trump brought his week of attempting to unify the Right to an upbeat end at the NRA Annual Meeting. Just days after offering up a list of potential Supreme Court appointments to frame the election in the starkest terms for conservatives, the NRA’s leadership responded with a rousing endorsement and jubilant response from the crowd. Trump took to the stage to promise that “I will not let you down,” and noted that he and his two sons are also members of the group:
AFP points out that the NRA endorsed earlier than it had in the previous two cycles, although their support of the Republican nominees against Barack Obama was a given. This time, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre cited the threat to the Supreme Court as the reason for the group’s earlier action in 2016:
The NRA’s endorsement of a Republican nominee is no surprise.
But the timing is notable because it came months earlier than in the previous two elections, suggesting the nation’s largest gun-rights advocacy group was seeking to help the Republican Party unite conservatives fractured over Trump.
The group’s chief executive Wayne LaPierre declared it was time to prevent Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, from gaining the White House and appointing a new justice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
“If she gets just one Supreme Court nomination, Hillary’s court will hold that the (US Constitution’s) Second Amendment is the government right, not an individual right, and you can kiss your guns goodbye,” LaPierre said.
US News and World Report assumes all is forgiven after Trump’s support of Obama after Sandy Hook:
The statements that roused the crowd Friday, however, were a departure from the even just a few years ago: As recently as 2012, Trump supported President Barack Obama’s call for tougher gun-safety measures after the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in #Newtown Connecticut.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2012
Trump has moved far away from that position over the past year. Some may not put much trust that Trump will stick to his more recent positions on gun rights, but … what other choice does the NRA have, really? LaPierre called Trump “America’s best hope” for the presidency, and that may very well be true — but that’s because there are only two “hopes,” and the other is Hillary Clinton. LaPierre is spot on when he points to the Supreme Court as the biggest danger to Second Amendment rights, and the danger of having Hillary appoint the next three or four justices.
And give Trump credit — he knew his audience today, and gave them exactly what they wanted. He pledged to ban gun-free zones, and called self-defense “the most basic right of all,” pledging to back it “one hundred percent.” Trump put Hillary squarely in the bullseye, so to speak:
He even referenced Clinton’s advantage with women voters, arguing that Clinton is telling “every woman that she doesn’t have the right to defend herself” with a firearm.
“That is so unfair and that is so egregious and I’ll tell you what, my poll numbers with women are starting to go up,” he said.
Trump also accused Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, of being hypocritical for having armed Secret Service agents around them while calling for stricter gun control measures, and called on the Clintons to “let their bodyguards immediately disarm.”
Watch Trump’s full speech here:
The release of that list has paid off handsomely for Team Trump. Expect to see more coalescing in the weeks between now and the Republican convention.