President Donald Trump will visit the highest-profile right-wing gathering of the year on Friday even as he bucks conservative orthodoxy in calling for new gun restrictions.
It’s his second appearance as President at the Conservative Political Action Conference, held just outside Washington in Maryland. His speech at CPAC last year was a blistering and dark diatribe that cemented the notion that Trump would not adhere to presidential norms.
A year later, those types of attacks from the President are now routine, and the frustrations he revealed during that address — at the news media, Democrats and establishment politicians — have not waned. Instead, they’ve become the soundtrack of his presidency, revealed on Twitter, during photo-ops and in the campaign speeches he delivers in red states.
The mainstream Republicans who organize CPAC and fill its speaking roster have sometimes cringed at Trump’s harsh rhetoric, but they tolerate it in the hopes he can help shepherd through a staunchly conservative agenda.
They have largely been rewarded over the past year, as Trump has approved sweeping tax cuts that include slashing the corporate rate, a massive unraveling of regulations and the partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Their tolerance for Trump’s crude brashness may be tested in the gun debate. The President has vowed to take action to prevent school shootings like the one in Florida last week, and he has expressed openness to at least one measure opposed by the National Rifle Association: raising the minimum age to purchase military-style rifles like the AR-15.