Trump will speak at NRA event in Houston days after Texas school massacre

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  • Former President Donald Trump will speak at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association in Texas after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in the state.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and other GOP politicians are also set to participate in the NRA’s “Leadership Forum” in Houston.
  • Two other Texas Republicans who were to attend, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told CNBC they would not be attending the podium.

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Former President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans are still planning to speak at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Texas on Friday after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in the state.

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Trump wrote on social media on Wednesday that he would keep “his long-term commitment to speaking in Texas at the NRA Convention” because America “needs real solutions and real leadership at this moment, not politicians and partisans.”

“In the meantime, we continue to pray for all the victims, their families, and our entire country – we are all in this together!” Trump’s post said.

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Trump, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and other GOP politicians set to attend the NRA Institute for Legislative Action”leadership forumIn Houston, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from the site of Tuesday’s gun massacre in Uvalde. The influential group, which has faced several federal efforts to tighten gun-safety laws, faced fresh criticism at last This is two weeks after the mass shootings at a grocery store in a predominantly black Buffalo, NY neighborhood and Rob Elementary School in Texas.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson will also join Trump at the event, according to an NRA press release announced earlier this month. The group described Friday’s platform as a “celebration of Second Amendment rights.”

But two other Texas Republicans who were to attend, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, told CNBC on Wednesday they would not attend the event. Both said that they backed out before shooting.

“Before the tragedy in Uvalde, we already informed the NRA that it would not be able to speak due to an unexpected change in its schedule,” Cornyn spokeswoman Natalie Yezbic said in an email. Cornyn “has to be in DC on Friday for personal reasons,” she said.

Crenshaw’s chief of staff Justin Desigil said the congressman was unable to make it because he is in Kyiv, Ukraine.

“We told the event’s organizer that he would not be back in the country to attend the event on Friday evening,” DeSigil emailed to CNBC.

The NRA-ILA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the shooting and its proximity to the stage, or the cancellation of Cornyn and Crenshaw.

Spokesmen for Abbott and Cruz did not immediately comment on the NRA incident. A spokesman for Trump referred to CNBC in his social media post.

Cruz on Tuesday criticized Democrats and media figures “whose immediate solution is to attempt to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“It doesn’t work. It’s not effective,” Cruz said.

Noem will speak at the forum, a spokesman for the governor told CNBC on Wednesday. Noem, in a campaign video tweeted by the NRA on Sunday, interpreted a quote from former NRA leader Charlton Heston: “Joe Biden, I’ll give you my gun when you get it out of my cold dead hands.”

Tuesday’s massacre was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history. The suspected shooter was an 18-year-old who was wielding both a handgun and rifle and may have been wearing protective gear. He was also murdered on Tuesday.

Some Democrats, whose prior efforts to enact gun-reform laws have hit a wallop among Republicans and firearms advocates, have criticized the NRA directly in the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting.

“The other side is ready to bow down to the NRA,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.Y., said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.

President Joe Biden called on Congress to tighten gun rules in a gloomy address Tuesday evening.

“As a nation we have to ask when, in the name of God, we stand up to the gun lobby,” Biden said.

Biden was vice president during the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults. Months after that mass shooting, a major push to reform US gun laws backed by then-President Barack Obama failed in the Senate.

Trump’s appearance on Friday marks the sixth time he will speak at the NRA’s annual event. “Trump delivered on his promises by appointing judges who respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and in doing so helped ensure the freedoms of generations of Americans,” NRA CEO Wayne Lapierre said in a statement.

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