As President Donald Trump continues to weigh potential gun reform legislation, at a private fundraiser this week in Palo Alto, the president reassured high-dollar donors that he’ll be a champion of the Second Amendment amid bids for a bipartisan compromise.
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Trump, who said Thursday that gun control negotiations were moving “very slowly,” behind closed doors days earlier reassured a room full of donors that those concerned about second amendment issues “voted for the right president.”
The comments came amid a series of California fundraisers the president attend this week, which included stops in Beverly Hills, San Diego and Los Angeles, and kicked off on Tuesday with a plush and private Palo Alto luncheon with a starting ticket price of $1,000 at a secluded mansion of tech giant and Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy, where he raised $3 million.
At McNealy’s 32,000-square-foot mansion, with 400 guests in attendance, the president on Tuesday spoke for nearly an hour before taking a handful of questions.
One donor in attendance at the Palo Alto fundraiser, Paul Bruno, a small business owner and National Rifle Association member who’s wary of new gun control measures, said he was called on by the president and asked how he planned to address the renewed push for gun control.
Bruno, who said he preceded his question by telling the president he was a gun-carrying NRA member to applause from those in attendance, tells ABC News Trump reassured him and the guests: “If you believe in the Second Amendment you voted for the right president.”
Bruno said he was thoroughly encouraged by the president’s full answer regarding addressing gun control, giving the president a thumbs up before sitting down.
When reached for comment, the Trump campaign did not push back on Bruno’s characterization of the event but did not provide further comment.
The president’s comments at this week’s fundraiser come nearly two months after a pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Deyton, Ohio left more than 30 people dead — and as Congress remains stagnant on gun control while lawmakers await proposals from the White House.
In an interview with FOX News Thursday, Trump seemed to temper expectations that a deal could be on the horizon, saying negotiations were moving “very slowly.”
On Wednesday, ABC News reported the White House distanced itself from a proposal Attorney General William Barr shopped to conservative Republicans in Congress this week that would expand background checks. “That is not a White House document, and any suggestion to the contrary is completely false,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley said.
What the president decides to do and how far he will go to address gun control remains a crucial issues for the administration and for the president as he heads into 2020 facing reelection.
Trump’s reelection team knows gun issues could play a major role in next year’s election and they’ve been keeping a close eye on how supporters view the issue— with data collected by the campaign showing that the president getting behind any gun control legislation would pose a political problem for Trump ahead of 2020, as previously reported by ABC News.
During the 2016 presidential election, the National Rifle Association was among the biggest supporters of Trump, spending more than $30 million on pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton campaign, according to Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of campaign finance data.
Trump’s pledge to protect the Second Amendment was one of many promises the president made to his wealthy donors while hopping from one ritzy fundraiser to another in California this week.
At a later fundraiser in Beverly Hills Tuesday evening, hosted by one of Trump’s most generous and committed benefactors, Beverly Hills developer Geoffrey Palmer, the president promised to the crowd of about 900 supporters that he has a solution for the homelessness in Los Angeles and San Francisco, while blaming the state’s Democratic leadership for the issues, a donor who attended the event told ABC News.
Trump has been vocal about the homelessness crisis in the state in the past week, blasting officials in Los Angeles and other cities in California to “clean it up.”
At the Beverly Hills fundraiser, featuring president’s son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, senior campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle and billionaire financier and Trump’s longtime friend Tom Barrack, the president spoke at length about his economic record and foreign policy. And during a question and answer session, according to an attendee, Trump, when asked by an attendee about the burden of college tuition for her daughter, joked in response, saying that she can now pay for the tuition since she just took a $100,000 photo with himself.
But as much warm reception as he received at his fundraisers, Trump’s visit to a state that he lost by more than 30 points in 2016 wasn’t without noise. Even before his arrival, the news of his fundraisers in California, first made public by The Hollywood Reporters’ reporting, caused an outburst from critics, including “Will & Grace” stars Eric McCormick and Debra Messing calling for the list of Trump fundraiser attendees to be made public.
Trump called the outburst an attempt to create a “blacklist of Trump supporters.”
Every stop the president made during the visit this week was met with anti-Trump protesters, and the Democratic majority in the California legislature at the state level has been in constant clash with Trump’s policies imposed at the federal level as recently as this week.
But Trump’s rare visit to the Golden State — which went for Democrats by landslide in the past few cycles — is not necessarily an effort to flip the state.
During the two-day fundraising dash this week, President Trump raised a whopping $15 million for his high-dollar reelection fundraising vehicle Trump Victory, as he picks up new support from California’s wealthy donors. He also is backed by some of his early California supporters including Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and former Facebook virtual reality lead and Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey.