During his latest review of favorable polling numbers, former President Donald Trump appeared to take a thinly-veiled shot at his two-time running mate former Vice President Mike Pence and the “good, warm approval” the audience had welcomed him with.
Appearing at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) Leadership Forum Friday, the president made his pitch as to why the organization “better endorse me again” in his trademark fashion. During his speech where he announced he would “stop Joe Biden’s war on lawful gun owners” he turned his attention to his frontrunner status in the developing Republican primary field.
“We’re leading so big in the polls not only against Republicans, but also against Joe Biden. And if you take a look — this week’s Morning Consult poll, I led the field by 33 points with Trump 56, DeSanctus 23, Pence five,” he said as a graphic was brought up for the audience to follow along.
“I hope you gave Pence a good, warm approval,” Trump said to boos from the crowd that he quickly simmered. “He could, nope, because he is a, he is a nice man if you wanna really know the truth. He is. He’s a good man. And I heard it was very rough. It’s a big news story. You’ve made news today.”
“I don’t know what you did,” the president claimed, “but you made news today with the introduction you gave.”
As previously reported, Pence had only said “Well hello, NRA” when he was met with booing in response. Before he would go on to decry gun grabbing as an answer to nationally reported tragedies involving firearms, the former vice president announced to the crowd, “I love you too,” seemingly responding to one vocal supporter.
It remains to be seen whether Pence will actually attempt to challenge Trump for the 2024 nomination and whatever working relationship they had in the past has never been the same since the then-VP had refused to acknowledge that he had any say in challenging the electors presented to him during the official certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Meanwhile, Trump continued taking shots at other Republican figures considered in the polls including the announced former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and the undeclared Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“And Nikki Haley, that’s another…beauty, she’s at four and Abbott’s at one. I don’t think Abbott’s gonna run. Governor of Texas,” Trump said.
“In a two way poll of Florida last week it was Trump 47 and DeSanctus 32 percent. And there was another poll in Florida where Trump was at 80 and DeSanctus was at 15 — that’s a Florida poll. In Texas it’s Trump 52 percent, DeSanctus 20, Pence five, Haley four,” he went on before suggesting “the only way we could lose is if we go prevent defense.”
DeSantis had also given an address to the NRA-ILA gathering, albeit remotely as he appeared at an annual New Hampshire GOP fundraising event where he helped bring in a record-breaking haul of $382,000 for the Granite State Republicans.
Should DeSantis, Pence or even Abbott announce their candidacy, the Republican leaders will likely have to wait until the first scheduled GOP primary debate in August to challenge Trump directly on stage from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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