Gun owners have been learning a great deal in recent weeks about the anti-gun record of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is currently polling as the front-runner among announced GOP presidential hopefuls. Less attention has been given to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. But gun owners will ignore Romney at their own peril.
Last week, Romney announced that he raised $23 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of the year, topping the amounts collected by his closest GOP rivals. Giuliani raised $15 million in the same period, and Arizona Sen. John McCain trailed with $12.5 million. (In the contest among a host of anti-gun Democrats, Hillary Clinton reported raising a whopping $36 million.)
Few people outside of Massachusetts are familiar with Mitt Romney. As such, the former governor is trying to take advantage of the opportunity, much like Bill Clinton did in the early 1990s, to craft an image for himself that is most likely to draw votes in his party’s primary.
And so, in the early going, Romney has attempted to portray himself as pro-gun. But, as the saying goes, the truth will win out. And when it comes to Romney’s record on guns, the truth is he is far from being what he now claims.
As he seeks to gain the attention of gun owners leery of gun manufacturer-suing Giuliani and gun show-banning McCain, Romney certainly has been talking the talk.
“I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life,” he said last week in Keene, N.H., to a man sporting a National Rifle Association cap.
“I support the Second Amendment,” he told the man… “I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life. I’ve never really shot anything terribly big. I used to hunt rabbits.”
Romney added: “Shooting a rabbit with a single-shot .22 is pretty hard, and after watching me try for a couple of weeks, (my cousins) said, ‘We’ll slip you the semiautomatic. You’ll do better with that.’ And I sure did.”
On a 2006 Georgia excursion, he said, “I knocked quite a few birds and enjoyed myself a great deal.”
Last August, with a presidential bid clearly in focus, Romney joined the NRA, signing up not just as a supporter but a “life member.”
But according to a recent Salt Lake Tribune article, the man who claims he has been a hunter “pretty much all my life” has in fact only been hunting twice, ever. Indeed, on Wednesday, Romney’s campaign admitted the first excursion into the field came at the young age of 15, and his second (surprise surprise) came last summer as he prepared to run for president. The Boston Globe is now reporting that Romney, apparently realizing his blunder, has resorted to even more fumbling in an attempt to explain himself, telling supporters in Indianapolis: “I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times.”
While Romney tries to figure out what the meaning of “hunter” really is, consider that the now-NRA life member (“Bowling for Columbine’s” Michael Moore also can make that claim) supported the Clinton Gun Ban in 1994, telling the Boston Herald, “That’s not going to make me the hero of the NRA. I don’t line up with a lot of special interest groups.”
As recently as 2002, Romney signed into law what is described as “one of the toughest assault weapons laws in the country.”
Is it just me, or is it incredibly insulting every time a politician expects America’s hunters, sportsmen, concealed handgun license-holders and gun owners to fall for a couple of drunken one-liners in an election year? Does a man who doesn’t even list the Second Amendment among the issues important to him on his election website honestly believe we’ll fall for him just because he managed to find his way to the 2007 S.H.O.T. Show to campaign? Does Mitt Romney think his election-year conversion will work on us any better than did John Kerry’s Ohio goose hunting debacle in 2004? I suppose next we’ll be treated to video of him sporting a fake southern drawl and saying, “Can I get me a huntin’ license here?”
Anti-gun GOPer Betty Montgomery recently insulted gun owners with this type of election year conversion, and that worked out for her real well (the supposedly unbeatable incumbent Ohio attorney general was defeated by pro-gun Democrat Marc Dann last November).
It’s as if Romney (and Montgomery, Kerry, Giuliani, McCain and all those who have come before) think we’re all like some air-headed college girlfriend. They seem to expect that we’ll watch as they repeatedly grope and fondle waitresses while we’re out on a date together, but forgive them as soon as they say, “I love you, baby. Now go get me another beer.”
Well, Mitt, you can save your empty gun-guy platitudes for some other cheap date. I, for one, ain’t carryin’ your beer (or your petitions, your yard signs, your handbills or your absentee voting cards).
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