GOP hopefuls flock to NRA cattle call

Posted: April 11, 2015 at 7:49 am

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

Nearly all of the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls wereonstage Friday attheNational Rifle Association's annual leadership conference in Nashville, a GOP cattle-call of sortsthat gavethepotential candidates a chance to trumpet their Second Amendment bona fides.

Attendees heardfrom a majority of the GOP's first- and second-tier presidential primary contenders, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Texas governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businessman Donald Trump.

Notable absences? Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both of whom have a prickly relationship with the NRA and were not invited to attend -- Paul because of his affiliation with another gun-rights group and Christie who scores low on the NRA's scorecard. Paul told Bloomberg that it was the group's loss, not his: "To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record's pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups."

For those candidates who made the cut, today wasa critical campaign stop. The Post's David A. Fahrenthold reported on the role of gun rights in the GOP last month:

Even for those who dont own [guns],they are a bellwether of individual liberty, a symbol of what big government wants and shouldnt have. ... As the 2016 campaign gets going, guns and hunting will inevitably be part of its political theater. That may offer a chance for longtime gun-owning candidates to stand out....Already, on the campaign trail, several contenders have used their support for guns as a way to signal broader conservative bona fides. In a party full of internal arguments, this is one thing few will argue with.

Find the speech highlights below.

Bobby Jindal

Biggest applause line: "You sometimes get the idea that president Obama and Hillary Clinton believe that these are just crazy right-wing ideas...But these are not the ideas of a right wing conspiracy. These are the pillars of our nation. And thats why I was glad to write the law in Congress after Hurricane Katrina ensuring that never again can the government seize your firearms after a disaster."

Biggest flop: "I remember the days when Hollywood actually liked the First Amendment. Well maybe they havent read the First Amendment lately. Theyre too busy dealing with record-low movie attendance."

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GOP hopefuls flock to NRA cattle call

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