Republican Presidential Aspirants Line Up for NRA Meeting

Several GOP presidential hopefuls plan to speak at the gun lobby's annual meeting.

Buttons are given away at the NRA booth during the 2014 Values Voter Summit September 26, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Top Republican contenders for their party's 2016 presidential nomination are lining up for an event next month being held by the country’s largest and most powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.

The NRA's website shows that Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, and former Governors Jeb Bush of Florida and Rick Perry of Texas are among the confirmed speakers at the group's annual meeting on April 10 in Nashville.

Most Republicans considering White House campaigns have received top grades from the NRA, which are based on votes, bill signings or vetoes or questionnaires. The one exception is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who once slammed the NRA after the group featured President Barack Obama's children in video. Christie was given a C grade ahead of his successful 2013 re-election, but still earned a higher mark than his Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, who received an F. That failing grade is almost certainly the same one the eventual Democratic presidential nominee will receive. 

The NRA says it represents more than 4 million members and its annual meeting can draw thousands of gun enthusiasts. The group raised almost $350 million in 2013, according to its tax return, and regularly spends millions on lobbying in Washington and state capitols in order to, among other things, keep gun data out of the hands of crimefighters, lift bans on interstate sales of ammunition to consumers, and block bans on high-capacity gun magazines

But the real stength of the Fairfax, Virginia-based group has been turning out voters who can be motivated by a single issue: a candidate's devotion the Second Amendment. While the NRA couldn't keep Barack Obama out of office, the group played a central role in recalling a pair of Colorado lawmakers  who backed stricter gun laws after the July 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora theater that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

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