- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2017

ATLANTA — President Trump on Friday became the first sitting U.S. president since Ronald Reagan to speak at the NRA’s annual convention, pledging to “come through” for gun-rights activists like they did for him last year.

“You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Mr. Trump said at the NRA lobbying arm’s 2017 “Leadership Forum.”

“The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end,” he said. “You have a true friend and champion in the White House.”

The gun-rights group endorsed Mr. Trump at its convention last May in Louisville, Kentucky, and was one of his biggest outside boosters in the 2016 presidential campaign.

“You’re my friends, believe me,” he said. “To the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.”

He talked up his pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, as well as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s reversal of an Obama-era ban on lead ammunition on certain federal lands, as examples of actions he’s taken thus far that are friendly to gun rights advocates.

“I promised that if elected, I would nominate a justice who would be faithful and loyal to the Constitution,” he said. “I kept my promise, and with your help, our brand-new justice, and he is really something very special, Neil Gorsuch, sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court.”

He also said his administration has worked to restore the “rule of law” and said it will always stand with “the incredible men and women of law enforcement.”

Mr. Trump also vowed once again to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, though the White House recently backed off demands to include money for the wall in a government funding showdown with Congress this week.

“We need the wall,” he said. “It’s a wall in certain areas. Obviously, where you have these massive physical structures you don’t need, and we have certain big rivers … but we need a wall, and we’re going to get that wall.”

As he approaches the 100th day of his administration, Mr. Trump also fondly recalled Election Night 2016 and some of the states he unexpectedly won.

“What fun that was — November 8,” he said. “Wasn’t that a great evening?”

He said Republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College system.

“Not gonna forget that evening,” he said. “Big sports fans said that was the most exciting event they’ve ever seen. That includes Super Bowls, and World Series, and boxing matches.”

He warned that the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee could be “Pocahontas,” his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts due to her claims of Indian heritage that have been questioned.

“And she is not big for the NRA — that I can tell you,” he said.

The president was scheduled to speak later in the day at a reception on behalf of Karen Handel, the Republican candidate running to fill Georgia’s Atlanta-area 6th congressional district seat formerly held by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

He gave Ms. Handel a shout-out in the speech and reminded attendees a runoff election will take place on June 20.

“She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment, so get out and vote,” he said.

Ms. Handel faces Democrat Jon Ossoff, who Mr. Trump said would “raise your taxes to the sky” and “destroy your health care.”

The NRA’s annual meeting was supposed to draw some 80,000 attendees, and many were ready to give Mr. Trump solid marks thus far.

“Normally, whatever he says, I agree with,” said Rosemary Pereira, 75, a retiree from Florida. “To me, he doesn’t say anything wrong. He’s just doing the right thing.”

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