Former President Donald Trump used his speech at the annual National Rifle Association convention on Friday to mock former Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis while making his case for the nation to send him back to the White House in next year’s presidential election.
On multiple occasions, Trump referred to DeSantis as “DeSanctus” while rattling off poll numbers showing him as the clear front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination.
He also joked about Pence’s not-so-warm welcome during his speech to the convention earlier in the day when he was met with loud boos from across the room filled with thousands of attendees.
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Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 14, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
“I hope you gave Pence a good warm approval,” Trump said, as members of the crowd booed again at the mention of Pence’s name.
“It’s a big news story. You’ve made news today. I don’t know what you did, but you made news today with the introduction you gave,” he added.
Pence and DeSantis are both reportedly mulling launching their own bids for the White House, but neither has officially said whether they intend to run. They have, however, each made trips to the early contest states in what often precedes an announcement.
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Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 13, 2023, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In addition to the subtle jabs, Trump used his speech to tout himself as the “most pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment president” to ever serve in the White House, and vowed to be a “loyal friend and fearless champion once again as the 47th President of the United States.”
He said, if elected, he would ask Congress to send him a National Concealed Carry Reciprocity bill and ensure Americans’ Second Amendment rights were applied across state lines.
Trump blasted President Biden over his part in weaponizing the government against law-abiding citizens, as well as his failure at cracking down on those perpetrating violent crimes across the country.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters on March 10, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
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He also made numerous references to the legal issues he faces in the state of New York but avoided going into detail about the finer points of the case that has seen him charged with 34 counts of felony falsification of business records.