By Susan McFarland – UPI
President Donald Trump will take the stage Friday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference — after the head of the National Rifle Association and Vice President Mike Pence set a fiery tone on day one.
Trump, scheduled to speak at 10: 05 a.m. EST, is expected to touch on a number of items — like his long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Gang members are being removed by our Great ICE and Border Patrol Agents by the thousands, but these killers come back in from El Salvador, and through Mexico, like water,” the president tweeted Friday morning. “El Salvador just takes our money, and Mexico must help MORE with this problem. We need The Wall!”
Gun violence is also expected to be part of Trump’s message to the conference Friday. In the last week, he has met with victims, families and first responders in Florida, and discussed the issue with authorities in the White House. Trump has said he’s open to proposals like increasing the age requirement for firearm purchases, ending bump stock sales and requiring tougher background checks — all proposals that could bring a clash with the NRA.
The organization’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, delivered fiery remarks at CPAC on Thursday, sending a clear message defending the Second Amendment against “new European socialists” wanting to take charge of Congress and the White House.
“The NRA does care,” LaPierre said. “Our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.
He also lambasted lawmakers like Sen. Chris Murphy and House leader Nancy Pelosi, who he said are encouraged to fight the Second Amendment by news media, eager to blame the NRA and call for more government control.
“They hate the NRA. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom,” LaPierre said of Democratic lawmakers.
“You guys love it,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said of news media. “I’m not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.”
Vice President Mike Pence warned of a “motivated” Democratic Party that could take back Congress this fall.
“It would be a disaster for our cause if Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House again,” he said. “They’re doing everything they can to try to win back the Congress.”
Also set to speak at CPAC Friday are White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and British politician Nigel Farrage.