THE WOODLANDS, Tex. -- Donald Trump on Friday accused President Obama of trying to unjustifiably wedge the debate over guns laws into the national conversation about terrorism, even as the mogul has signaled openness to tightening restrictions on firearms in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre.
"It's a hatred. It's a deep-seated hatred. And President Obama is trying to make terrorism into guns. And it's not guns, folks. It is not guns. It is not guns. This is terrorism," Trump said.
On Wednesday, Trump said he would schedule a meeting with the National Rifle Association to discuss proposals to bar people on some federal watch lists from purchasing guns.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee's remarks from both days highlighted the difficult balancing act Trump appears to have embraced between campaigning as a staunch defender of guns rights while challenging some longstanding pro-gun orthodoxies.
"Nobody will protect your Second Amendment like Donald John Trump," he said, emphasizing his middle name with gusto.
Trump made his Friday remarks during an evening rally held in a packed ballroom here north of Houston. As the temperature crept to nearly 100 degrees, several thousand people waited for close to four hours in a line that stretched more than half a mile. Many did not make it in.
At the top of his remarks, Trump said there were "miles and miles of people" lined up outside to see him.
Vendors walked up and down the line selling "Make America Great Again" hats and pro-Trump T-shirts, including one featuring him in a boxing ring with Hillary Clinton -- thrown to the ground as he triumphantly stomps on her neck.
At first there were no food or water vendors, but a few young men in line quickly saw a business opportunity, ran to a store and came back with bottled water that they sold for one dollar each. One person in a white pickup truck also pulled up and passed out free water.
As Secret Service shut down their checkpoints, one mom had her children pose in front of the closed doors with dramatically disappointed facial expressions and their thumbs down. A woman who had tried to convince her husband hours earlier to drop out of the line and get ice cream made a point of noting that she was right. One guy jokingly shouted: "The border is closed!"
Dozens of protesters gathered outside the rally with signs reading "Trump is a neonazi" and "A vote for Trump is a vote for hate." They were quickly out-numbered by Trump supporters, who at one point chanted: "Build a wall and kill them all!"
At the rally, Jacob Mingear, 22, said Trump singled him out after he held up a T-shirt he painted in fluorescent colors to read, "GAYS FOR TRUMP."
The graduate school student said he was sitting in the first row and caught Trump's eye during a part of the speech that referenced the recent Orlando slayings.
"There's a movement of LGBT that's moving towards Trump," Mingear said afterward, wearing his handmade shirt that Trump had signed. "It was already there before Orlando and now it's really growing."
He added that he was more fearful after the rally of confrontations with anti-Trump protesters than Trump supporters.
Earlier in the day, Trump held a fundraiser at the sprawling red-brick mansion of trial lawyer Tony Buzbee, who once defended Rick Perry. Donors paid between $5,400 and $250,000 to attend.
About 150 protesters, some wearing sombreros and anti-Trump T-shirts, gathered across the street. Police officers sought to put distance between them and a couple of dozen people wearing pro-Trump swag.
When Trump arrived in his motorcade, the protesters -- accompanied by a snare drum player and a saxophonist from the local band Free Radicals -- chanted, "Stop the hate, stop the fear; immigrants are welcome here!"
Ron Castro, a 34-year-old high school government teacher, said he illegally immigrated to South Texas when he was 3 years old. His family was fleeing civil war in Nicaragua, Castro said, adding he later served in the U.S. Navy and became a resident.
"I'm just here to observe for the students," Castro said as he crossed the street to join protesters on the sidewalk. "I just wish he wouldn't divide us. He's so divisive."
During the rally, Trump repeated his stated belief that if people in the Orlando nightclub had been armed, the outcome would not have been as bad.
He also said: "We should declare war on ISIS," using a common acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group. The United States is part of an international coalition that has been waging war on the Islamic State for nearly two years, including more than 13,000 airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
Sullivan reported from Las Vegas