Apr 17, 2023 - Politics

Pence booed at NRA Convention

Former Vice President Mike Pence holds up his right hand while addressing the NRA convention in Indianapolis.

Former Vice President Mike Pence was greeted by boos during a speech at the NRA convention. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The NRA is rolling out after a noticeably smaller convention this weekend.

Why it matters: The NRA sets the agenda for gun politics — advocating for freer access — and even with a smaller crowd it retained its status as a mandatory stop for ambitious Republicans.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence occupied the same stage, albeit without crossing paths, for the first time since leaving office estranged over the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

  • Pence walked up to thunderous boos, quipping, "I love you, too," though his speech ended with cheers.
  • "I don't know what you did, but you made news today," Trump said of the crowd during a 50-minute-plus keynote in which he also called Pence a "nice man."

State of play: The NRA offered coveted speaking platforms to other select Indiana Republicans, including Gov. Eric Holcomb and Sen. Mike Braun, who is running for governor in 2024.

The intrigue: Trump snubbed Braun from the stage while giving a shout-out to rival gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who did not speak.

  • Trump also mentioned Congressman Jim Banks, who is running for Senate, and Attorney General Todd Rokita.

The other side: Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett met Saturday with Moms Demand Action, a group that advocates for firearm restrictions, and responded to questions about the NRA by noting Indianapolis is not scheduled to host the group again.

By the numbers: The NRA did not release an attendance estimate, but it was expected to be down from 70,000 in 2019 and 75,000 in 2014.

  • Downtown Indianapolis hotels offered deep discounts, rare during big events, with one four-star hotel listed Friday on Hotwire for $136 — 45% off the regular price.

Flashback: Trump and Pence also spoke at the 2019 NRA meetings — in front of 10,000 people at Lucas Oil Stadium.

  • This time, they appeared in front of about 4,500 in an exhibit hall.

The bottom line: The NRA, besieged by scandals and financial trouble, still served as a campaign stop on Indiana's road to 2024.

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