Four presidential candidates tried shooting their shot in more ways than one during the Jasper County Republican Party’s 10th annual trap shoot fundraiser. In addition to taking shots at clay pigeons, the Republican candidates also took their shots trying to rile up party members to possibly earn their support.
Those who attended the trap shoot include former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, lawyer and Protestant minister Earl Walker “E.W.” Jackson. All four were given chances to speak.
Pence said he is running for president because he thinks the United States “is in a lot of trouble,” saying President Joe Biden has weakened the country at home and abroad. He added that Iowans have a chance to shape the nation’s leader “who is going to win America back for freedom.”
Like the freedom to keep and bear arms, which has long been a pillar of Republican values and a continued source of controversy. Nevertheless, the trap shoot held at the Jasper County Gun Club every year upholds those freedoms and rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. Pence then gave folks a promise:
“I promise you, if I’m your president, as I did in my years in Congress, as I did when I was governor of Indiana, when I did when I was your vice president, I will always stand for the right to keep and bear arms enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America,” Pence said. “So I look forward to shooting.”
As a duck hunter, Hutchinson was happy for an opportunity to shoot, and as president he promised to ensure the Second Amendment is protected.
“I will stand with your right, and that is important for the freedom of our country,” he said. “We talk about inflation, and inflation is hitting us. We always talk about the cost of eggs, the cost of goods at the store and the cost of gasoline. Well let me tell you inflation hits the cost of our shotgun shells as well.”
Binkley echoed sentiments from Pence, saying “the nation is in a lot of trouble,” but he also pivoted away from Second Amendment talk to focus on the economy. As a CEO of an investment bank, Binkley said he has a deep understanding of economics and the money supply problems from over-spending.
“I met with a regional bank yesterday that’s in trouble,” he said. “And it could be in deeper trouble if the fed keeps raising rates. We’re in an upcoming storm. We think we have trouble now, it could be much more severe. So I’m seeing a pathway through that. I’m really running for the next generation.”
If the United States doesn’t navigate this in the right way, some of the things folks saw in 2007 and 2008, Binkley said, could be “a mild, small indicator” of what’s to come. If the country doesn’t solve inflation and debt, he said the next generation will likely have the weakest economic foundation since the Great Depression.
“If we don’t do that, we’ll never lead strong across the world like we should and we’ll never really get back the freedoms we have in our country,” Binkley said.
Jackson said he wished he could have a big smile on his face, but the reason he is running for president is because he is angry. His anger was toward the New Mexico governor’s 30-day gun ban and the supposed construction of a Chinese-sponsored company’s plant near an Illinois air base, among other things.
“This is the greatest nation of opportunity in the history of mankind, and I’m not going to let a bunch of socialists and Marxists and communists and atheists and secularists take this away from us,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to be prepared to defend our nation! Not with bullets and bombs, by the way.”
Thad Nearmyer, chair of the Jasper County Republican Party, said the trap shoot continues to be the local GOP’s biggest event of the year. The event’s connection to the Second Amendment certainly helps propel the event, and it consistently draws the most people and attracts top Republicans.
“When it comes to candidates and elected officials, they want to do an event where it’s outside and nice weather and they’re not crowding inside a restaurant,” Nearmyer said. “Because they do that all the time across the state, so this is something that’s a complete outlier to most political events.”