By Geoff Petrulis | CBS 11


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — President Trump was in Dallas to address — what he claimed — was a record crowd in attendance for an NRA (National Riffle Association) convention.  He began by thanking NRA Head Wayne LaPierre and Vice President Mike Pence and by proclaiming his love of Texas and endorsement of Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The President praised the NRA in his opening remarks. “The people in this hall have never taken our freedom for granted… never,” said the President. “And you have never stopped fighting for our beloved constitution. Incredible people,” he continued. “You give your time, your energy, your vote and your voice to stand strong for those sacred rights given to us by God — including the right to self defense.”

He affirmed his commitment to protect Second Amendment rights — the right to keep and bear arms — and his support for the men and women of law enforcement.

The President encouraged supporters to vote in 2018. “You watch how well we do in 2018. Don’t get complacent,” said Trump.

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The President also spoke about the progress he said his administration has had so far in his first term.

“We love our country and we believe our citizens deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return. For the last fifteen months, that is exactly what we have been doing,” said the President. “We are all finally putting America first.”

The President also addressed new unemployment numbers released today. “The unemployment rate — we saw that just today — just fell beneath four percent for the first time since the beginning of this century,” said President Trump.

He credited Kanye West with doubling his poll numbers among African Americans. “We went from 11 [points] to 22 in one week, thank you Kanye, thank you.”

It didn’t take the President long to discuss his displeasure with media coverage. “We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve virtually ever had, and yet all we hear about is this phony Russia witch hunt,” said Trump.

The President said that today the Wall Street Journal reported that a judge in Virginia was questioning the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s authority to prosecute former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax and bank-fraud unrelated to the 2016 election. “But he is a good person. He is. I really believe he’s a good person,” Trump said of Manafort.

Reading from the Journal report Trump quoted the judge saying, “‘How does this have anything to do with the campaign?’ the judge asked.” In response the President said, “Let me tell you folks, we’re all fighting battles but I love fighting these battles. It’s really a disgrace… what’s happening to our country it’s a disgrace.”

Addressing the situation on the Korean peninsula, President Trump said, “We’re really doing well with North Korea.” He then mocked the Obama administration for not wanting to say anything bad about the dictatorship. “The last administration had a policy of silence…’Don’t talk, you may make them and him angry!'”

Trump said his critics were saying that his rhetoric would lead to nuclear war. “You know what gets you nuclear war? Weakness,” said Trump.

President Trump also talked about ‘that horrible deal’ with Iran. “They’re marching in the streets saying ‘death to America.’ I said who signs a deal when they’re marching saying ‘death to America?'”

Trump turned his remarks to a conversation about gun laws and the 2015 terror attacks in Paris . “Paris, France has the toughest gun laws in the world,” Trump said. “If one person in this room had been there — with a gun aimed in the opposite direction — the terrorists would have fled or been shot and it would have been a whole different story.” In 2015 a series of unprecedented attacks on popular night spots killed at least 120 people in Paris in what was described as the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.

President Trump again urged the crowd to support the GOP. “The one thing that has always stood between the American people & the elimination of our Second Amendment rights has been conservatives in Congress willing to fight… We have got to get Republicans elected, we’ve got to do great in ’18,” said the President.

Trump also addressed the current status of immigration and illegal immigration in the United States and said that he and conservatives in congress were elected to — among other things — secure the borders. “We go into wars to defend their [other countries] borders, we don’t defend our own borders,” said Trump. “And we’re going to start defending our country; we’re going to start defending our borders.”

The President said that we have the worst immigration laws and said that new ones were needed. “We’re going to take people into our country, but they’re going to come in based on merit,” said Trump. “Not based on picking somebody out of a bin.”

“We’re going to demand congress secure the border in the upcoming CR [continuing resolution], it’s going to be very soon,” said Trump.

The President paid to tribute to Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander who was shot and killed in line of duty. ” Today our love and prayers go out to the family of slain Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander who last week was murdered in the line of duty very very close to this arena. We ask God to help the others who were wounded,” said the President. “It’s a great police department, a police force that has lost too many heroes, but has never lost the will to protect and to serve you.”

Trump said he signed recent legislation that includes more than $2 billion to improve school safety that will include training, metal detectors and other security. He said the funding also includes resources to address mental health issues.  He said the legislation also includes vital improvements to the background check system for gun purchases.

WATCH ENTIRE SPEECH HERE: