National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre took to the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in a Washington, D.C., suburb on Thursday morning to deliver an aggressive speech in which he condemned everything from the mainstream media to the FBI to a rising tide of “socialist” politicians.
LaPierre appeared on the stage just after NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. The leader of the nation’s premier gun rights organization wasted no time digging into the Democrats. He declared that “the Obama decade” led to the exile of decent Democrats, as the party became the hostage of “a tidal wave on new European-style socialists.” LaPierre went on to say that the Democratic party is “now a party infested with saboteurs who don’t believe in capitalism, don’t believe in the Constitution, don’t believe in our freedom and don’t believe in America as we know it.”
He then moved on to play to the crowd by blasting the “intellectual elites [who] think they’re smarter than we are,” continuing, “They think they’re better than we are — they truly believe it, and you know it. The privileged and the powerful, they think they deserve to be in charge of every lever and power, but the United States Constitution makes it absolutely clear that they are not in charge.” While LaPierre’s speech was peppered with obvious applause lines, the audience didn’t seem as enthused as they were only moments earlier by Loesch’s remarks.
Eventually, the gun-toting executive turned on the FBI, saying, “It’s hard to understand why nobody at the FBI stood up and called B.S. on its rogue leadership.” He continued, “I mean really, where was the systemic resistance that should protect every powerful institution that serves us?”
Before LaPierre’s appearance, Loesch was particularly divisive in her rhetoric on the CPAC stage. That was a noticeable change from her demeanor on Wednesday night, when the usually brash spokeswoman dialed it back to speak with survivors of the Florida shooting. But on Thursday, she went all in, accusing the media of “loving mass shootings” and addressing them by saying, “You love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back [of the room].”