OXON HILL, Md. • The Republican Party’s 2012 presidential ticket is returning to the national stage as thousands of conservative activists gather outside Washington to examine the GOP’s future.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday afternoon, the second day of a three-day conservative summit. It’s the first time he’ll deliver public remarks since his concession speech last November.
But at a conference focused on the next generation of conservative leaders, Romney’s 2012 running mate, Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, is scheduled to speak first. He’s expected to discuss his recently released budget blueprint.
Friday’s program also features reality television star Donald Trump, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The gathering comes as Republicans work to recover from a painful 2012 election season.
Earlier, LaPierre attacked President Barack Obama’s call for mandatory background checks for gun owners, saying those who favor mandatory background checks may be, quote, “insane.”
LaPierre says background checks won’t make schools safer. Instead, he says, the checks will let the government tax gun owners or take their weapons. He spoke to activists Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington.
Obama has called on Congress to tighten gun laws following the Connecticut school shooting that killed 26 children and educators. The president supports a series of reforms, including mandatory background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.
Conservatives say they are increasingly confident Congress will reject any reforms.