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Obama Wins Delegate Race, But AHSA Endorsement Flames Out

Monday, July 28, 2008

By Chris W. Cox,
NRA-ILA Executive Director

It was the very last day of the presidential primary season before Barack Obama amassed enough delegates to secure the Democratic nomination. He did not secure this critical mass from delegates won in primary elections and caucuses, but from so-called “superdelegates”—elected officials and other heavy hitters—who rushed to endorse him on the final day. In fact, Hillary Clinton surprised the pundits with a victory in the South Dakota primary on that final day, when many predictions were for Obama to take that state and Montana in a sweep.

One of the reasons this historic primary battle endured for so long is utterly ironic, but undeniable. Democratic primary voters who owned guns showed a consistent preference for Hillary Clinton.


Demonstrating yet again that AHSA is nothing more than a diversionary device for supporting anti-gun, anti-hunting candidates and legislation, AHSA head Ray Schoenke announced that “Because the gun issue has recently become a factor in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania,” AHSA was “stepping up to set the record straight.”

Yes, this is the same Hillary Clinton who kicked off the Million Mom March with a triumphant walk down the lawn of the White House. This is the same Hillary Clinton who called for national gun registration and licensing of gun owners. And this is the same Hillary Clinton who has voted against gun owners and hunters at every opportunity since becoming a U.S. Senator.

But it is also the same Hillary Clinton who has a shrewd grasp of political reality, and the same Hillary Clinton who deftly seized on Obama’s incredibly tactless remarks accusing rural voters of clinging to guns and religion out of economic bitterness—remarks delivered just prior to the critical Pennsylvania primary.

Hillary Clinton then spoke of her own admiration for “Americans who believe the Second Amendment is a constitutional right.” She talked fondly of her grandfather teaching her how to shoot and declared, “People enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are.” These words stood in stark contrast to her history on the issue, but served their intended purpose: to create a comfort zone for many rural voters offended by Obama’s elitist cultural broadsides.

Obama also shot himself in the foot with his return fire, accusing Clinton of trying to sound like someone “who’s in the duck blind every Sunday.” That remark no doubt sounded peculiar to Pennsylvania hunters, who have not been able to hunt on Sundays since 1873.

Just when it seemed that Obama couldn’t dig himself any deeper into the hole, along came some new friends—the so-called American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA). And this ill-named handful of gun control activists brought a backhoe, in the form of a baseless endorsement of Obama’s Second Amendment “commitment.”

Demonstrating yet again that AHSA is nothing more than a diversionary device for supporting anti-gun, anti-hunting candidates and legislation, AHSA head Ray Schoenke announced that “Because the gun issue has recently become a factor in the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania,” AHSA was “stepping up to set the record straight.”

AHSA claimed to base its endorsement of Obama on a single vote in the U.S. Senate, where Obama had joined with 83 of his 99 colleagues in support of an amendment to a spending bill. For AHSA, this single lopsided vote “demonstrated a fundamental understanding of the meaning of the Second Amendment, which means he recognizes the individual right of all citizens to keep and bear arms.”

AHSA’s backfiring Pennsylvania endorsement is a preview of the “change” you’ll hear about in this election.

AHSA did not mention Obama’s vote against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. AHSA did not mention Obama’s endorsement of a total ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns. AHSA did not mention Obama’s total opposition to Right-to-Carry or his support for a ban on the sale and transfer of semi-automatic firearms. No, AHSA merely noted their belief that “Senator Obama ‘gets it.’ To say that he is an elitist is patently ridiculous.”

The Obama campaign fed this baloney to the media. Schoenke told U.S. News and World Report that Pennsylvania gun owners “are moving in Obama’s direction” and that “Obama is chipping away at Clinton’s lead.” The magazine bought into the lie, saying “Schoenke’s positive words for Obama are significant.”

They were right, but not in the way they thought. The same goes for Schoenke, when he told the magazine “The gun vote matters.” Indeed it does, and within hours the state’s sportsmen’s communications network was afire, exposing the AHSA endorsement for the lie that it was. When the ballots were cast, Clinton had beaten Obama soundly, with the help of the nearly four in 10 Democratic primary voters who own firearms.

AHSA’s backfiring Pennsylvania endorsement is a preview of the “change” you’ll hear about in this election. The candidate who has supported nearly every gun ban and restriction is trying to change into a politician who sounds harmless to gun owners and hunters. Gun control financiers and activists are trying to change into a group that sounds like sportsmen. And they are all trying to change the balance of power so they can pursue their true agenda—disarming law-abiding Americans like you.


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.