IN Focus: Trump, Pence headline NRA convention in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited Indianapolis Friday to address the National Rifle Association.

Both delivered remarks at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum. This is the third straight year the president has delivered the keynote address at the forum, which was scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Pence arrived at Indianapolis International Airport around 9:50 a.m. The president was expected to arrive at 10:50 a.m. but was running behind and landed at 11:08 a.m. Pence delivered remarks to the NRA before Trump took the stage for his keynote. The speeches were pushed back a few minutes because of the president’s late arrival.

Pence spoke first, expressing his appreciation for the NRA and its members.

“Our forebears fought our nation’s wars, defending our way of life with the skills they learned on the rifle range in a deer stand at the knee of a father, a mother or a grandparent back home,” he said. “In our own day there are no greater champions of America’s tradition of responsible gun ownership than all of you and the 5 million proud men and women of the NRA.”

He told the group he and President Trump stood with them and the Second Amendment.

“Under this president and this vice president, no one is taking your guns,” he said.

“I’m here today to tell you that we are with you. President Trump and I are with the NRA today and tomorrow and always because the National Rifle Association stands for freedom,” Pence told the crowd.

“Nowhere is this ongoing struggle for freedom visible everyday than in the struggle to defend the Second Amendment, firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens don’t threaten our families, they protect our families. And we know that firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens make our communities more safe, not less safe.”

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Pence expressed his support for law enforcement and those who serve their communities. He also upheld conservative values.

“President Trump has already appointed to our federal courts more principal conservatives to the Supreme Court in the last two years than any president in American history and they are all conservatives who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion and the right to keep and bear arms.”

The vice president turned toward the 2020 campaign, saying that, under the Trump administration, “the country is winning again.”

He railed against socialism, proclaiming, “America will never be a socialist country.”

President Trump began his speech by thanking Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana’s senators and House representatives. He took credit for economic gains, including GDP growth and low unemployment.

The president told the crowd he did this despite the two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he dismissed as a “hoax” and also called an attempted “coup.”

He promised gun owners he would always stand behind them and declared himself a “champion” of the Second Amendment.

“I will always defend the Second Amendment and I will never let you down. I will never let you down,” he told the crowd.

The president touted his signature border wall with Mexico and said Democrats “must change” the country’s immigration laws.

“What we want is for people to come into our country legally and through merit,” he said.

The president announced his opposition to the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty, saying he would never ratify the “badly misguided” treaty, which was intended to regulate the global arms trade. Trump said he was rejecting the treaty, which the U.S. signed in 2013 but never ratified.

He did some campaigning as well, telling the audience that the 2020 election is closer than it seems.

“You better get out there and vote,” he said. “It seems like it’s a long ways away. It’s not.”

The president stepped aside on several occasions to let people who credited guns with saving their lives take the stage to tell their stories. He ended the speech on an upbeat note.

“To all our incredible friends at the NRA, thank you for fighting the good fight,” he said. “I am with you and I will never, ever, ever let you down. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”

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