Do you think they were sincere in their speeches or just looking for votes?
NASHVILLE — An invigorated National Rifle Association tested the mettle of potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls and ramped up for an expected battle against Hillary Rodham Clinton — though the gun rights group said it also will keep a watchful eye during President Obama’s final years in office.
And in speeches at the NRA’s annual convention this weekend, the candidates did their best to fire up the attendees.
“We are at war. This is not a time of peace,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the crowd. “My goal is to make sure that we go after those bastards that are trying to kill us and everybody like us, and make sure they feel the wrath of this country — that we dig them out and we kill them, because there is no other substitute.”
Gun rights supporters will be able to pick from a host of Republican candidates, who all vowed to be vigilant against encroachment on the Second Amendment. They also were unified in decrying Mr. Obama’s performance, both domestically and in managing overseas conflicts.
“We need a president who will be straight up with the American people, and look them in the eye, and tell them, ‘It is not a matter of if, it is when they [make] another attempt on American soil, and, for the sake of my children and yours, I am not going to wait. I am going to take the fight to them before they bring the fight to us,’” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told the crowd Friday during the NRA-hosted leadership forum.
The candidates focused on Mr. Obama, but NRA officials made clear they’re already casting an eye beyond the current administration and see Mrs. Clinton as a continuation of Mr. Obama.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre set the tone early.
“Is the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has led to the surrender of ground gained by our brave men and women in the military, that has led to the collapse of morale among the [military] ranks and has reached the point where they refused to even acknowledge who our enemies are or how victory can be defined — is that legacy of failure really the best America can do?” Mr. LaPierre said Friday, eliciting cries of “No!” from the crowd. “The Obama-Clinton policies demean our U.S. military and represent the very worst of leadership.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas followed suit: “The Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind does not work,” he said.
NRA leaders talked about raising as much as $70 million to fight against Mrs. Clinton, whose husband, former President Bill Clinton, led the push in the 1990s for some of the stiffest gun control laws on the books.
Memories of those battles are energizing the NRA.
“When our next president is elected, we vow on this day, that name will not be Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Mr. LaPierre said Saturday.
NRA member Joe Robinson of Michigan shared the sentiment.
“I am still trying to see what the Republican Party is bringing forward and offering up, and I know what I don’t want,” the 62-year-old said. “I don’t want to see another Clinton in the White House. I just don’t want to see it. One reason is that Bill is going to be there as well, and I don’t want Bill in the damn White House again.”
Read more: Washington Times