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Ex-NRA chief looks beyond Trump in 2024 U.S. presidential race
Ex-NRA chief looks beyond Trump in 2024 U.S. presidential race David Keene says former president's biggest problem is he is 'all about the past' Former NRA chief David Keene says the political rise of Donald Trump is a symptom of the American public feeling alienated from Washington. MASAHIRO OKOSHI, Nikkei Washington bureau chief July 10, 2023 21:42 JST WASHINGTON -- In the increasingly crowded race for the Republican nomination for U.S. president next year, the former chief of the National Rifle Association seems to be focusing on alternative candidates to former President Donald Trump. The influential gun lobby endorsed Trump during his presidential run in 2016. But David Keene, the association's president from 2011 to 2013, told Nikkei that the decision should not be made "at this stage." "Donald Trump is not about the future. He's all about the past," Keene said. He said he would instead vote for other candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he thinks they could win the White House. Edited excerpts from the interview follow. Q: Many Republicans seemed disappointed in Trump after last year's midterm election. But his supporters seemed to have regained momentum, especially after he was indicted in March over an alleged hush money payment to an adult film star. A: A lot of Trump supporters have been of the opinion, and not incorrectly, that from the day he was elected, or even before that, in 2016, that there has been a concerted effort to destroy him. They are very defensive, and that binds them to him, because a lot of the attacks have not been on Trump -- they've been on them. What you had was a growing sense in the public of an alienation from Washington. This was not caused by Trump. Trump's a symptom of it. [Now] the White House decides -- and they've made this fairly clear in a number of ways -- that there's one way that they can reelect Joe Biden. And that's to get him to run against Donald Trump, because they can run a campaign in which you're not arguing that Biden is better; you're arguing that Trump is worse. That's a contest they think they would win. Can DeSantis or somebody else sell themselves as the alternative to Trump? That's a tough one, because you can't join in to demonize the Trump base like the Democrats have. You can't start attacking those voters for "being so dumb they were for Trump," because they'll say, "Well, we may be dumb but we have a vote." Q: At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Trump in a speech said, "I am your retribution." A: Donald Trump is not about the future. He's all about the past. It's all about getting even, it's all about, "They cheated me." I always say if you think they're grateful for what you did, ask Winston Churchill after World War II. "Nice job, Winnie," you know? Now you're gone, because they want to know not what you did yesterday -- they want to know what you're going do tomorrow. Donald Trump doesn't go there. He just goes back. When you take everything else away, that's his biggest problem. Q: Given the importance of winning the presidential general election in 2024, it seems like the Republicans should choose another candidate in the party primaries who has a better chance of winning against President Biden. A: Historically, primaries are not about who can win the general election. Primaries are about, "Who do I agree with? Who do I like? Who am I attracted to?" While Donald Trump may be a weak candidate, so is Joe Biden, and so they're saying, "We could have it both ways. We could get the guy we like, and he can win, no matter what anybody says." Q: Who would you vote for in 2024? A: The people that I like that are never going to be president are [former Vice President] Mike Pence and [former Arkansas Gov.] Asa Hutchinson. They're very decent people. I agree with almost everything that they say. I would go with one of these others, including DeSantis -- if I think he can win. And he's the "best bet" at this point, if he can take off. I'd go with some of the others as well. I think it comes down to whether Ron DeSantis can take off while Trump is weakening. If DeSantis doesn't take off and Trump collapses, that's a whole different story. Then somebody will emerge, because they'll have some space in which they can grow. Q: Do you think the NRA should endorse Trump again? A: Not at this stage. We only rarely get involved in primaries because at this stage, in the Republican Party, usually all of the candidates are Second Amendment supporters. So we don't pick among them on that. The 2016 race, where we went all-in for Trump, was -- and we were crucial in that race -- unique. There were two reasons. One, nobody was spending any money for Trump in the summer of 2016. Secondly, about 30% of our members -- and the electoral strength of the NRA -- is throughout the Midwest. And the base of the NRA is not just conservative Republicans; it's working-class Democrats. Here was a candidate who was appealing to them, who didn't really understand the issues that well but said, "I'm for it." And nobody was doing anything. So we jumped in and had disproportionate influence than we would usually have. Q: The U.S. has seen numerous mass shootings in recent years. What are your thoughts on the current situation? A: The issue is so polarized that there's no rational discussion. The NRA position has always been, "We don't need more gun laws; we need to enforce the laws that we have." Today we're enforcing fewer of those laws. The problem now is not the guns; the problem is the people. And we've had a breakdown in this country. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I used to take my shotgun to school [and] put it in the locker. Then on the way home, we'd go shoot pigeons. Nobody ever shot up the school. There is something wrong. But you're not going to solve it by taking somebody's gun away from him.
Gun Control Is Not The Panacea Democrats Expect
By David A. Keene - May 2nd 2023 The old saying ‘if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, you will begin to see every problem as a nail' is particularly true in the political world. Pollsters continually advise candidates that they need more polls; media gurus argue more radio and television ads; direct mail consultants claim the key to victory is their message in every voter's mailbox. Social media experts dismiss all of the above as antiquated and inefficient. However, few political or real-world problems are susceptible to one-size-fits-all solutions. The tendency to reach for the hammer is nowhere more apparent than in the progressive political approach to crime. Progressives are determined to define crime as a nail and their hammer is “gun control.” They have managed to persuade themselves and each other that if there were no firearms in private hands there would be no crime. If only it were so simple. Current firearms restrictions recognize that part of the problem may be susceptible to this hammer. Federal policy thus already restricts convicted felons, the potentially dangerously mentally ill and others deemed to be a threat to others, from buying or possessing firearms. While one can argue about whether these restrictions are too broad or narrow, they make logical sense. Armed robbers, gangbangers and the potentially violently mentally ill are not the sorts of people who should be running around with guns. That nail has been hammered. Still, they want to keep hammering. Preventing those who have worked their way onto what is known as the “Prohibited List” from acquiring firearms is one thing, but taking the hammer to the rights of law-abiding citizens guaranteed by the constitution is quite another. But that is what they want to do. Any excuse to find ways to restrict firearms ownership seems sensible. A few years ago, I attended a conference at which former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's acolytes suggested that anyone arrested for driving while intoxicated should lose their firearms rights for ten years. This, they insisted loudly, would reduce mass shootings. When I asked if there was any empirical evidence that mass shooters are likely to have had a drunk driving arrest on their record or that those likely to shoot up a school or shopping mall tend to come from the ranks of such drivers, they dismissed the questions as beside the point. They sincerely believed they had found another nail that needed hammering. Gun control advocates ignore the possibility that the growing violence with which we are living may stem from deeper causes than the availability of firearms. In an earlier day, high school students in rural communities often brought their rifles and shotguns to school, stored the gun in their lockers and went hunting after school. In the sixties, airlines allowed passengers to store their long guns in the overhead luggage bin while traveling. None of those students shot up their school and those passengers never hijacked planes or killed passengers. It was a different world. Of course, in those days one could ride the New York subway without risking being pushed onto the tracks by a stranger or watch a parade with no fear that someone would deliberately drive a car or truck into the crowd. And there were no “flash mobs” terrorizing retail outlets and customers, and policemen did not just look on as people they are supposed to protect were beaten. So why is today's world so different and so violent? Progressives will tell you “guns,” because gun control is the hammer they have, and they want to use it to “solve” a societal problem far more complicated than they are willing to admit.. They have convinced themselves that all problems from crime to climate change can be solved with their hammers, no further investigation needed. This myopia was on full display as Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Steven Dettelbach testified before the House Judiciary Committee on April 26th. Texas Republican Chip Roy asked Dettelbach how many of the 155 “mass” shooters Dettelbach was discussing were on “medication” at the time of the shootings, how many were from single parent families, and how many were heavily into social media. Dettelbach had no idea. More than a few experts have suggested that some illicit and a wide range of new prescribed medications have severe psychotic side effects that could make those using them more prone to aggression and violence. The question of whether those who take up guns against their neighbors, co-workers or fellow students are on such drugs is both relevant and important. But not to Dettelbach. In a sense, Dettelbach was correct when he responded that while Mr. Roy's questions might be worth looking into, they are not questions that ATF has a responsibility to address or to investigate. Sadly, Mr. Dettelbach has only one tool in his toolbox and it's the gun control hammer that he believes or at least hopes is the right one. Many experts believe the problem is not a nail. Taking criminals off the street and enforcing existing firearms laws work, but simply devoting time, energy and taxpayer money to pound on things that aren't nails clouds the search for real world solutions to real problems Mr. Dettelbach and his bosses in the White House need to come to the realization that they need more than a hammer in their toolboxes. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.
Trump Supporters "Overthrow" the U.S. Republican Party in Rural America?
Trump Supporters "Overthrow" the U.S. Republican Party in Rural America? April 28, 2023 U.S. Presidential Election 2024 Former President Trump U.S. Republican Party of the United States: Will Trump Supporters "Overcome" in Rural Areas? Trump or anti-Trump? In local organizations of the opposition Republican Party in the U.S., supporters of Mr. Trump have been gaining strength, causing what could be called a "groundswell. Although he is the first person in history to be indicted as president, his approval rating has not declined, and his popularity has not waned. What is going on in the countryside? We covered the deepening divisions within the Republican Party. (By Kyoko Okano, International Correspondent) Trump's popularity stands out despite the first indictment in history First, I visited the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the Midwest. The NRA is a lobbying group that opposes gun control and is a strong supporter of the Republican Party. The annual meeting is also known as a forum for politicians seeking presidential elections to appeal for support. What stood out at the venue, where more than 70,000 people attended according to the organizers, were Trump supporters wearing hats and T-shirts with Trump's name on them. A long line had formed more than four hours before the speech began. When Mr. Trump appeared in the hall, everyone stood in unison. The audience was filled with loud applause and cheers, and the room was instantly filled with excitement. Mr. Trump speaking at the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Mr. Trump. 'In my four years as President, I have already accomplished a lot, but there is still more to be done. We will take back the beautiful and wonderful White House and make America great again." Although he was the first person in history to be indicted for having served as president, Trump's approval rating has not declined since then. At the event, there were many voices in support of Mr. Trump, and his popularity showed no sign of waning. A visitor to the venue I support Mr. Trump. His ideals are almost the same as mine." 'He hasn't done as bad as many people in the White House. He will make this country a better place. Emerging forces in support of Trump: What are they really like? Trump's popularity is now causing tremors in the Republican Party's local organizations. One such area is Butler County near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It has long been a strong Republican area, and Trump won the last presidential election there. What exactly is going on here? We were able to talk to one of the key players. He is Zach Scherer, 20, who works at a local supermarket. When he was in high school, Scherer became interested in politics because of Trump. He is an ardent Trump supporter who also agrees with Trump's claims that the last presidential election was rigged. Ms. Scherer. 'I think a lot of young people have been awakened by Mr. Trump. I like that he is like a normal person. He can be a bit of a slanderer, but that's what makes me like him, because he's so young." Scherer has helped Trump's campaign. After the last presidential election, she and her colleagues conducted their own investigation into possible fraud in Butler County, and she became frustrated with the local Republican Party chapter, which seemed to be uncooperative in such activities. Mr. Scherer. "In Butler County, many people have held chapter positions for 20 or 30 years. Frankly, I think they are only in office for themselves. Now it's time for a revamp." Older chapter members have come to feel that Trump is hanging on to the "vested interests" that he criticizes, Scherer said. He ran with more than 60 others in an election last May to elect a Republican chapter committee member. As a result, those who supported Trump won a majority of the committee members, effectively putting the chapter under their control. What do old-fashioned Republicans think? Al Lindsey, an attorney who has represented the Butler County Republican chapter for 40 years. He was forced to step down last year due to the rise of Scherer and his colleagues. Al Lindsey, former president of the Butler County Republican Chapter Mr. Lindsey. 'It was a very good organization, but all of a sudden it fell apart. They are not facing reality by pandering to the masses like Trump. They believe that controlling the Republican Party is more important than winning the election over the Democrats, and they're convinced that's how they're going to win." Lindsey said that the chapter's policy has been to unite all conservatives, not just Trump supporters. She believes that Scherer and his group's move is an act that will divide conservatives, and she feels threatened. The conclusion they came to was to start a new organization. To counter the "takeover" of the chapter by Trump supporters, they want to increase the number of people who agree with their views and become mainstream again. Lindsey. “They will never be convinced about us. So how can we unite the party? It would be nice if our side could get more votes. We have to take it back again." What lies ahead for the "underdogs"... Scherer became a mainstream member of the Butler County Republican Party. However, he has since been unable to unite as a chapter due to a struggle for control within the mainstream, which has left him feeling confused. Mr. Scherer. I thought I was doing a good thing, but all it did was cause internal strife, and all kinds of people wanted to be leaders. Nothing was getting done." I local branches of the Republican Party, as in Butler County, Trump-backed forces are now beginning to oust moderate members in many places. Will these developments weaken the Republican Party and benefit Democrats in the run-up to next year's presidential election? Or will it further strengthen Trump's presence in the Republican Party and, conversely, strengthen the unity of the party? We will continue to cover the "changes" in the Republican Party that are taking place in the regions.
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