Former President Donald Trump promised thousands of National Rifle Association members that the “Second Amendment will always be safe with me as your president” on Friday as he headlined the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show.
Trump, the keynote speaker of the NRA’s presidential forum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, touted his polling numbers and bragged over his recent victories in the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, calling them “good signs.” He further predicted a victory in the South Carolina primary over former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, ultimately followed by a win in November over President Joe Biden in the general election.
Trump may very well be a lock at this point in the primaries — he holds 75.8% favorability in FiveThirtyEight’s aggregated national poll, while Haley owns 17.6% of favorables. The distances close ever so slightly in South Carolina, Haley’s home state, but he still holds a 34 point advantage. South Carolina’s presidential primary will take place Feb. 24.
The former president used his platform Friday to bask in the glow of Biden’s challenging last 36 hours.
On Thursday, the Justice Department published a report of its investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents in his civilian life, after his vice presidency. The report found that Biden “willfully” retained and disclosed classified materials, but said that criminal charges against him were unwarranted.
The document also called into question Biden’s memory and mental acuity, suggesting he would present himself to a jury “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Biden responded with a fiery, previously-unscheduled press conference Thursday night, lambasting the report and its “extraneous commentary.”
Trump leaned into Thursday’s news, painting himself as the victim of “selective persecution of Biden’s opponent: me,” and joked that he doesn’t think Biden “knows he’s alive.”
The classified documents cases facing both Trump and Biden, the former president said, are wholly different — Biden’s case, he said, is a “document disaster,” while Trump’s is “peanuts by comparison,” and he insisted that Biden “made recovery almost impossible,” while arguing that he “cooperated far more than Biden did.”
Whether or not Trump deliberately withheld records from investigators is still a matter for courts to settle, he allegedly refused to give back boxes of classified documents to the federal archives, allegedly ignored a subpoena ordering documents be returned and was then subject to an FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate, finding more than 100 classified documents. Biden, meanwhile, cooperated with investigators, per the special counsel’s report.
He also criticized Biden for seeking to ban pistol braces — an ATF rule that was blocked by a federal appeals court late last year — though Trump glossed over his administration’s own ban on bump stocks, a modification that makes it easier to rapidly fire semi-automatic weapons. Bump stocks were infamously used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, in which 60 people were killed and 413 wounded. The legality of that ban has been taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court — oral arguments are set for later this month.
And despite GOP promises of totalitarian gun policies under Democratic administrations, neither Biden nor his Democratic predecessor, former President Barack Obama, has instituted significant gun control measures.
That didn’t stop Trump from insisting to the crowd that “globalists” were seeking to “take your guns.”
The Great American Outdoors Show is billed as the world’s largest outdoor recreation expo, held each year since 1995 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.