WASHINGTON (AFP) -
Ninety-nine days after taking office, President Donald Trump on Friday is set to address the National Rifle Association, the hugely powerful US gun lobby that will surely give him a triumphant welcome.
The event will be heavy with symbolism.
Republican candidates jostling to the doors of the organization that prides itself on its ability to influence local and national elections may be a common sight. However, a sitting president addressing the group's members is far less so, the last time dating back nearly 35 years to Ronald Reagan.
This time, Trump will address the NRA's 146th annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia, where more than 80,000 members and some 800 exhibitors are expected to take part in a four day event.
The organization backed the real estate billionaire early in the 2016 presidential campaign and gave him significant financial support.
In a short video about the speech, the NRA draws a parallel between Trump's address and Reagan's -- evidence, if any were necessary, of the lobbying group's close ties to the 45th president.
"NRA members and gun owners helped put President Trump over the top," NRA Wayne CEO LaPierre said.
The organization has since given the president high marks, especially for his appointment of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
- Campaign style -
In 1983 Reagan electrified NRA members gathered in Phoenix, Arizona during his re-election campaign.
"We will never disarm any American who seeks to protect his or her family from fear and harm," said the president, who has become an all-but sacred icon for many Republicans.
"The constitution says 'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,'" Reagan added to thunderous applause.
The former actor was careful to cite the constitution?s Second Amendment verbatim -- but only part of it.