In less than 30 minutes, President Donald Trump hit all the hot buttons, feeding red meat to thousands attending the National Rifle Association’s national convention in Atlanta on Friday.
Trump, the first sitting president to address the NRA convention since President Ronald Reagan in 1983, began by voicing his appreciation to the NRA and its membership for its and their early and generous support of his presidential campaign. The NRA first endorsed Trump for president in March 2016 and subsequently pumped $30 million into his campaign, running four times as many ads in his support than it did for Mitt Romney in 2012.
He reminded his raucous supportive audience of how the national media tried to suppress voter turnout in 2016 by repeatedly stating that Trump had “no path to 270” Electoral College votes. The crowd applauded noisily when he noted that the media was right after all: He didn’t get 270; he got 306.
He made passing reference to Pocahontas — far-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — acknowledging that she could be his opponent when he runs for reelection in 2020. He said that in that year there will be only one candidate to vote for, adding, “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.”
He noted improvements already taking place during the first 100 days of his administration in the Veterans Affairs agency where, he said, there’s “a big difference” there already in how veterans are being treated.
Trump then announced “good news” to the hungry and waiting audience: The eight-years-long assault on the Second Amendment “has come to a crashing end.” He promised that, under his administration, the federal government would no longer infringe on precious rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. He affirmed the “sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens.”
He reminded his audience of his campaign promise to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — calling him a “great defender of the Constitution” — with someone equally “faithful and loyal” to the Constitution. He thanked both the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society for providing him with the names of 20 candidates who met that definition. He took credit for nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to take Scalia’s seat, noting that his was the first administration to have such a nomination confirmed by the Senate in its first 100 days since 1881.
He received great applause when he honored members of law enforcement, implying clearly that the new administration is not their enemy, but instead is a supporter of the rule of law, working with them to enforce the law. He drew applause when he paraphrased the NRA’s executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s well-publicized claim from December 2012 that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”: “Responsible gun ownership saves lives and that the right of self-defense is essential to public safety.”
He came down hard on the MS-13 gang that has for years terrorized parts of major cities in the country, using, for the only time, intemperate language in his speech, saying, “It’s not going to be pleasant for them.… Get them the hell out of here!” The crowd roared its approval.
He told his audience how pleased he was that Jeff Sessions was serving as his attorney general, noting that he too supported the Second Amendment and was already coming down hard on crime, including gang members, drug dealers, and especially illegal immigrants. He told them how determined his head of Homeland Security, John Kelly, is to protect citizens by removing illegals and “stop the drugs from pouring into our country.”
To great applause he announced that “the Wall will be built! — don’t even think about it!” When in place, the president said, the wall will “stop human trafficking and drugs,” adding that illegal immigration has already declined by 73 percent since he was inaugurated. Those here illegally will be “caught and returned,” while those who return “will be arrested, prosecuted and put behind bars,” said the president, adding that “immigration security is national security.” He said that we currently allow “radical Islamist terrorists to enter right through our front door — that’s not going to happen anymore!”
He praised the Constitution, saying that his administration serves “under” it and not “above” it, and then, reaching the climax of his speech, declared that “as your president I will never — ever — infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms!”
Once the applause died down, Trump declared that “freedom is a gift from God” and then reminded his audience of the midnight ride in April, 242 years ago, when Paul Revere shouted, “The British are coming!” Trump said that today, “Other people are wanting to come but they’re not going to be successful!” He told the story of one of those who met the British at Lexington, Captain Levi Preston. When asked why he was there that fateful day, he responded, “We always had governed ourselves and we always meant to govern ourselves.” Trump reminded his audience that it is the right of the American people “to govern our own affairs and govern them properly.”
As he wound down his speech, Trump reminded his audience that we live “in dangerous times” and that “we are here today to defend freedom for our children, to defend the liberty of all Americans, and to defend the right of a free and sovereign people to keep and bear arms.”
And then he reiterated his Big Promise: “I will never, ever, let you down!”
Image of Donald Trump at NRA: YouTube screenshot