The Republican party may have lost their power in Washington, D.C., but this past weekend in Phoenix they faced a mini-revival at the annual NRA convention.
On Friday at the Celebrating American Values Leadership Forum, NRA members heard from a bevy of Republicans from RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who reminded everyone that he was a conservative, to former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell who warned the attendees that the U.S. was in the middle of a doomsday scenario under Obama.
Wayne LaPierre the CEO and Executive Vice President of the NRA delivered a blistering attack on the media for their biased coverage of gun issues. LaPierre said that media dishonesty has a detrimental effect on the whole American system’s willingness to lie and cited as examples of liars on the gun issue, Sens. Feinstein and Durbin and Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, who do so frequently and with impunity.
He added that because of agenda journalism of the New York Times and others that the media just make stuff up when it comes to guns. One example of that was the recent ABC special with Diane Sawyer where it was all about bad people with guns and nothing about the other side. LaPierre said that is due to the fact that such stories are an embarrassment to the media and the political standard of the country.
Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action had one of the better lines of the day when he referred to the surge in gun sales since November by saying, “Obama deserves credit for the only part of the economy that is going strong – gun sales.”
Sen. John McCain focused on border security, which is a big problem in Arizona, and reminded the audience that Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the world thanks to the influx of drug dealers and other criminals from Mexico.
Michael Reagan gave the feel-good speech of the day with fond reminiscences of his father and mentioned that as an adoptee he thanks God every day that Jimmy Carter wasn’t looking for a son.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who guided his state through the Katrina disaster, spoke on global warming and asked the audience how much they would be willing to pay for lowering carbon emissions and called Obama’s plans nothing more than a tax.
Former Clinton strategist Dick Morris eschewed standing behind the podium and hit Obama on his health care plans, saying that what we don’t want is something similar to Canada where there is an eight-week wait for cancer treatment and cancer death rates are at 41% compared to 32% in the U.S.
Morris also hit the GOP hard by saying that “The morons and knuckleheads who run the Republican party can’t be trusted to save conservatism.”
Former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney was the final speaker and gave what may be a prelude to his stump speech for 2012. By appearing before the convention for a second straight year there is no doubt that he is currently the favorite son of the NRA going forward.
I should add that it wasn’t all GOP all the time as there were video appearances by Rep. David Boren (D-OK) , Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) all gun-rights supporters.
With the Republicans still trying to find their way the majority of the speakers carefully avoided any mention of the party and instead chose to focus on policies of the Obama administration and how this will affect their future ability to possess a firearm.
Based on the large attendance at this meeting which last year topped 8,000 and this year filled a good portion of the U.S. Airways Arena, it is a voting bloc not to be ignored.