Former President Donald Trump is headed back to Pennsylvania.
Trump will be the keynote speaker Feb. 9 at the National Rifle Association’s Presidential Forum in Harrisburg.
It’s the first scheduled visit of the year for Trump, who is expected to make frequent campaign stops in Pennsylvania, as he did in 2020 and ’16 in his presidential campaigns.
Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016 and then lost the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2020. It’s considered a key swing state in this year’s presidential election.
While Pennsylvania won’t hold its primary until April, the state is already receiving heavy attention from both Trump and President Joe Biden as both look to November’s general election. Trump, who cruised to victory in the Iowa caucuses last week, appears on the cusp of sewing up the Republican nomination early.
Biden has already visited Pennsylvania three times this year, including a stop in the Lehigh Valley, as most polls show the president and Trump running neck and neck against each other in the state with 10 months until the November election.
The GOP nominating contest has become a head to head match-up between Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, heading into to New Hampshire Tuesday. Another decisive win for Trump there could further clear the path to him for the nomination.
The NRA forum is part of the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show, a massive expo held annually at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, over nine days celebrating hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions. Last year 200,000 people attended, according to the NRA release.
The appearance marks the eighth time Trump has addressed NRA members, according to the organization.
“President Trump’s unwavering support for the Second Amendment, and his track record of protecting the rights of gun owners make him an exemplary speaker for this momentous event,” NRA President Charles Cotton said in a release.
As with many policy issues, Biden and Trump have far different records on gun control.
Biden has pushed for stricter gun regulations as president, signing into law in 2022 one of the most sweeping changes to gun laws in three decades. The law provided grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhanced background checks to include juvenile records and closed the “boyfriend loophole,” restricting access to guns among unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse. The bipartisan legislation passed Congress after the deadly shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Trump, who is a member of the NRA, opposed most gun control efforts as president. The NRA applauded Trump for designating firearm retailers as critical infrastructure during COVID-19 and withdrawing from the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty.
The NRA also credited Trump’s three Supreme Court appointments with playing a role in the landmark New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen ruling. The 2022 case centered on a New York state law requiring applicants for a concealed carry permit to demonstrate a “proper cause.” The court struck down the law 6-3 ruling that the ability to carry a pistol in public was a constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
“President Trump’s presence at the Great American Outdoor Show is a testament to his ongoing commitment to our constitutional freedoms,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of NRA-ILA, the lobbying arm of the NRA. “His leadership has been crucial in safeguarding the rights of hunters, sportsmen and all Americans who cherish our outdoor heritage.”