Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other key Republicans cancelled their appearances at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Leadership Forum following the Uvalde school shooting.
Abbott canceled his in-person appearance to hold a Friday afternoon news conference in Uvalde, Texas, and will address the convention through a pre-recorded video, spokesperson Mark Miner said Thursday to the Dallas Morning News. He was initially scheduled to speak at 2:37 p.m., right after NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and before Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
The governor held his first press conference in Uvalde on Wednesday, which was briefly derailed by Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. The gubernatorial candidate criticized Abbott outside of the conference for his plan to speak at the convention.
“He’s scheduled to speak at the NRA convention this Friday in Houston, Texas, just days after these kids were slaughtered right here in Uvalde,” O’Rourke told reporters. “After they were slaughtered at Santa Fe High School, at Sutherland Springs, in Midland Odessa, in El Paso, Texas. Five of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history right here in this state in the last five years, he was governor for every single one of them.”
Republican Lt Gov. Dan Patrick cancelled his scheduled appearance Friday in order to “focus on the families” of the victims. (RELATED: Abbott Bashes Gun Reform, Says Chicago Efforts Have Proven Ineffective)
“After prayerful consideration and discussion with NRA officials, I have decided not to speak at the NRA breakfast this morning,” Patrick announced in a Friday statement. “While a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and an NRA member, I would not want my appearance today to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and to all those suffering in Uvalde. This is a time to focus on the families, first and foremost.”
My statement on cancellation of NRA Convention appearance: pic.twitter.com/2CddBaOVdC
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) May 27, 2022
Celebrities, including singers Don McLean and Lee Greenwood, have pulled out of the convention out of respect to the grieving families whose children or loved ones died in the Robb Elementary School shooting Tuesday. Gospel singer Larry Gatlin and country singer Larry Stewart also pulled out from their scheduled performances.
“I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform,” McLean said in a Wednesday statement. “I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well.”
The NRA expressed its “deepest sympathies” to the families of the 21 victims killed in the shooting in a Wednesday statement.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime. On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who offered their support and services,” the statement said. “Although an investigation is underway and facts are still emerging, we recognize this was the act of a lone, deranged criminal.”
“As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members, and pledge to redouble our commitment to making our schools secure.”
Former President Donald Trump, Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of are slated to speak at the event.