Republicans gather for gun-rights confab in Nashville

Published 8:28 AM EDT, Fri April 10, 2015
Washington CNN —  

It’s a rare moment when former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz agree, but gun enthusiasts are likely to see just that at the National Rifle Association convention on Friday.

Nearly every potential or announced Republican presidential contender will attend, and each will have 10 minutes to make their case to the audience at the conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Republicans scheduled to speak at the conference include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, physician Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and real estate mogul Donald Trump.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence canceled appearances.

Notably absent from the event: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both of whom were snubbed by the organization.

Christie is somewhat of an anomaly for the party in that, as the governor of a deep-blue state, he’s previously backed some curbs on gun rights. That earned him a C rating from the NRA when he ran for reelection in 2013, but he’s since drawn praise from gun-rights advocates for vetoing state bills to ban semi-automatic rifles and to curb the maximum ammunition size allowed in New Jersey.

Paul, meanwhile, has an A rating from the NRA, but will be campaigning in Iowa on Friday after launching his presidential bid this week.

The timing of the conference is perhaps less-than-ideal for the GOP, as it caps another week where gun violence made headlines. The shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed African American man, at the hands of a white police officer that was caught on tape reignited the nationwide debate over police tactics and criminal justice reform that has swept the nation over the past few months.