Thursday July 2nd, 2020 12:08PM

Trump campaigns as a 2nd Amendment warrior

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — After the Parkland school shooting in Florida two years ago, President Donald Trump chided Republican lawmakers for being too “scared” of the National Rifle Association to tighten gun laws — then backed away from the idea.

After back-to-back mass shootings in Ohio and Texas in 2019, Trump embraced calls for “strong background checks” — only to backpedal once again.

Now, as he primes the pump on his 2020 reelection effort, Trump is going all-in on embracing the mantle of gun rights champion, a stark turn from earlier moments in his presidency when he toyed with the idea of pushing Congress to enact stricter gun laws.

There was no public discussion of tighter gun laws when Trump welcomed Parkland families to the White House for a private meeting on Monday, four days before the two-year anniversary of the rampage that left 17 dead. Instead, administration officials unveiled a website intended to help educators, parents and law enforcement address threats to school safety.

In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly warned supporters at his rallies that Democrats “will take your guns away.” Last month, he labeled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam a “whack job” as gun rights advocates protested the Democratic governor's moves to tighten gun laws in the aftermath of a mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Drawing a straight line from gun rights to presidential politics, Trump tweeted that Democrats in the state “will take your guns away. Republicans will win Virginia in 2020. Thank you Dems!"

And on Monday night, as he came to the apex of an hourlong campaign speech in New Hampshire, Trump framed his supporters' Second Amendment right to bear arms as being as precious as the rights to privacy, free speech and religious freedom.

Campaign officials believe the effort could help put states like Minnesota, New Mexico and New Hampshire in play. For that to happen, Trump will need to draw even more rural and white men to the polls -- key groups that helped drive his 2016 surprise victory.

Trump's advisers believe his consistent efforts to spotlight his credentials as a Second Amendment warrior can help him draw a contrast with the eventual Democratic presidential nominee. The top tier of Democratic candidates have made bolstering gun restrictions a key part of their platforms.

Mike Bloomberg, a former New York City mayor, has poured millions of dollars from his own fortune into supporting a series of gun control advocacy groups. Former Vice President Joe Biden served as the Obama administration’s point man on the president's failed push for sweeping gun reform laws following the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who got a D- grade from the NRA, has been knocked by fellow Democrats for not being tough enough on gun restrictions.

“Democrats have shown they don’t respect the Second Amendment, which will be one of many contrasts drawn during the campaign,” Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

After spending more than $50 million in support of Trump’s 2016 election victory, the NRA is likely to have less impact on this election cycle, said Robert Spitzer, a professor of political science at the State University of New York-Cortland whose research focuses on American gun laws.

The powerful gun rights group has been mired in financial difficulties, internal strife within the organization’s leadership, and probes by the New York attorney general’s office that threaten the group’s tax-exempt status.

Trump’s joint campaign committees and the Republican national party committee had $195 million in cash on hand at the close of 2019, making the NRA’s money less significant this election cycle.

But with a hard gun-rights pitch, Trump appears to be strategizing that he could persuade some voters who have become disenchanted with politics to come back to the ballot box to vote for him.

“He really is doubling down not on the broadening of his base but for pushing for higher turnout among his people,” Spitzer said. “One of the keys in 2016, but not the only one, was that turnout among rural white voters was a little higher than predicted. This pitch, he figures, will help him get there.”

Trump and fellow Republicans are likely to face a deluge of spending from gun control advocates, who think their message will resonate with on-the-fence suburban voters.

Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella group of gun control advocacy organizations funded by Bloomberg, recently announced that it would spend $60 million to beat gun rights proponents on the state and federal level in 2020.

The group has not said how much it would spend on the presidential race, but thus far has budgeted $1.25 million to help reelect North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, both Democrats. It also plans to spend some of that first tranche of money toward beating two Republican senators, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona.

Gun control advocates feel emboldened after the 2018 midterm elections in which more than 30 NRA-backed Republican candidates lost their races.

“His tactic has been to say incendiary things about guns to whip up the base, but he and the NRA haven’t been able to pass any of the gun lobby’s priority legislation — even with a Republican Congress for two years,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Mom’s Demand Action, part of the Everytown for Gun Safety coalition.

When Trump met with members of the group Stand with Parkland on Monday, administration officials highlighted the school safety website. Stand with Parkland backed the creation of the website — but it also has urged Congress to require universal background checks on gun purchases.

Asked if there was disappointment in the president backing away from taking on background checks, one Parkland parent who met with Trump, Max Schachter, said the president’s efforts should not be minimized.

“Of course there is always more that can be done,” said Schachter, whose 14-year-old son, Alex, was among the victims at Parkland. “But let’s not let perfection be the enemy of good.”

On the campaign trail, Trump’s dire warnings about what might happen to American gun owners if a Democrat wins the White House have become a regular line in his speeches, reliably drawing boos and hisses for his to-be-determined opponent.

At a recent campaign rally in Iowa, Trump again turned his attention back to Virginia, where Democrats in November claimed majorities in both houses of the legislature and secured the first unified Democratic government in the commonwealth in 26 years.

“In the state of Virginia they want to take your guns away, can you believe it?” Trump said. “I love Virginia. Of all states, they want to take your guns away. The Democrats. Not going to happen.”

He offered similar dark predictions to a friendly crowd last month in New Jersey, saying the gun control effort in Virginia was "just the beginning."

And on Monday night, he reassured New Hampshire supporters that his administration is “going to protect your Second Amendment, by the way.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump campaigns as a 2nd Amendment warrior
President Donald Trump is fully embracing the mantle of gun rights champion as he makes his pitch for reelection
6:16AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Philippines notifies US of intent to end major security pact
The Philippines is notifying the United States that it will end a major security pact allowing American forces to train in the country
6:13AM ( 17 minutes ago )
UK economy flat-lines in Q4 amid Brexit and election clouds
Uncertainty related to Brexit appeared to have weighed heavily on the British economy during the final quarter of 2019 as output flat-lined
6:09AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Oil from US government leases tops 1 billion barrels in 2019
U.S. officials say oil production from federally-managed lands and waters topped a record 1 billion barrels last year
5:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
Mandela's release 30 years ago birthed a new South Africa
Thirty years ago, Nelson Mandela was released from 27 years of imprisonment by South Africa's apartheid regime and instantly galvanized the country to dismantle the brutal system of racial oppression
5:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
China denies cybertheft following Equifax accusations
China is denying involvement in any hacking activities after the United States indicted four members of the Chinese military for allegedly breaking into the computer networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of people
4:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Rohingya boat capsizes in Bay of Bengal; at least 16 dead
Rescuers have recovered at least 16 bodies after an overcrowded boat carrying about 125 Rohingya refugees sank off an island in the Bay of Bengal
1:54AM ( 4 hours ago )
Justice Department brings new suits over sanctuary policies
The Justice Department is filing suit against the state of New Jersey and the county that is home to the city of Seattle over so-called sanctuary policies that hinder federal immigration officers
12:44AM ( 5 hours ago )
What to watch in New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday night
The Democratic presidential race is deeply unsettled heading into the New Hampshire primary
12:40AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Ireland faces wrangling as Sinn Fein aims to form government
Final results in Ireland’s general election show three parties in a virtual tie for seats, signalling weeks of tense negotiations to form a coalition government
5:36AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Trump pays tribute to 2 soldiers killed in Afghanistan
President Donald Trump traveled Monday night to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to pay respects to two U.S. soldiers killed Saturday in Afghanistan when a soldier dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire with a machine gun
1:24AM ( 5 hours ago )
Congressman Lewis to receive NAACP honor at awards show
The NAACP is honoring John Lewis for his Congressional service and long history as a civil rights activist
1:21AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Maryland unveils statues of Tubman, Douglass in Capitol
At a time when states are debating the removal of Confederate monuments, Maryland has added bronze statues of two of the state's famous black historical figures to the Maryland State House
8:29PM ( 10 hours ago )
Judge stalls Uber, Postmates challenge to California job law
A federal judge is refusing to exempt ride-hailing company Uber and on-demand meal delivery service Postmates from a broad new California labor law while she considers their lawsuit
8:16PM ( 10 hours ago )
Barr: Justice Dept. is collecting Ukraine info from Giuliani
Attorney General William Barr says the Justice Department is collecting information that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine about the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son
6:02PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
With Democrats in New Hampshire, Steyer has SC to himself
With the Democratic presidential field focused on New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, billionaire Tom Steyer has South Carolina all to himself
6:38PM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Warren says she's been counted out before
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is vowing not to give up on her presidential run as she faces increasingly bleak prospects in a state so close to her own
5:51PM ( 12 hours ago )
With Dems in New Hampshire, Steyer has S Carolina to himself
With the Democratic presidential field focused on New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary, billionaire Tom Steyer has South Carolina all to himself
5:45PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
Doubts persist for Dem voters about female nominee in 2020
In 2018, female candidates helped power the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House
10:07AM ( 20 hours ago )
Trump's $4.8 billion budget proposal revisits rejected cuts
President Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion election-year budget plan that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs to promise a balanced budget in 15 years
7:17AM ( 23 hours ago )
2020 Watch: Is Mayor Pete for real?
Chaos in Iowa has sparked a deep sense of anxiety among Democrats who hoped the kickoff contest would provide clarity and evidence of excitement at the official starting line of the 2020 primary season
5:16AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Biden faces competition for black vote in his SC 'firewall'
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is facing formidable competition in South Carolina
12:30PM ( 1 day ago )
Democrats on edge after 2020 election season's ragged launch
Democrats are on edge over embarrassing technical issues that marred this week's Iowa caucuses, and they're worried about the lower-than-expected turnout in the first contest of the 2020 election season
7:46PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Biden: first two states important, not critical
Joe Biden is continuing to waffle over whether he needs to do well in New Hampshire even as he promised supporters at a Manchester campaign office “the reports of our death are premature
5:10PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Video of Pelosi brings renewed attention to 'cheapfakes'
A video of Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union speech while President Trump honored special guests spread through social media
3:00AM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Warren forgets she's in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is practically Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s backyard
3:05PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Dems to review if state parties should run races
The head of the Democratic National Committee says that after the 2020 election is over, the national party will review whether state parties should be running elections
2:40PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Philippines notifies US of intent to end major security pact
The Philippines is notifying the United States that it will end a major security pact allowing American forces to train in the country
6:13AM ( 17 minutes ago )
UK economy flat-lines in Q4 amid Brexit and election clouds
Uncertainty related to Brexit appeared to have weighed heavily on the British economy during the final quarter of 2019 as output flat-lined
6:09AM ( 21 minutes ago )
UN experts meet to fast-track drugs, vaccines for new virus
The World Health Organization has convened a group of experts to fast-track promising tests, drugs and vaccines to help slow the outbreak of a new virus that recently emerged in China
5:58AM ( 33 minutes ago )
New Hampshire hopes to clarify unsettled Democratic contest
New Hampshire voters are poised to reset the Democratic Party's chaotic presidential nomination fight in the second contest of a young primary voting season
5:57AM ( 33 minutes ago )
Australian court rules indigenous people can't be deported
Australia’s highest court has ruled that the government can’t deport Aboriginal people as part of its policy of ridding the country of foreign criminals
5:47AM ( 43 minutes ago )