[Guest post by DRJ]
Barack Obama is trying to win the votes of rural gun enthusiasts in Pennsylvania:
“Barack Obama did not hunt or fish as a child. He lives in a big city. And as an Illinois state legislator and a U.S. senator, he consistently backed gun control legislation.
But he is nevertheless making a play for pro-gun voters in rural Pennsylvania.
By highlighting his background in constitutional law and downplaying his voting record, Obama is engaging in a quiet but targeted drive to win over an important constituency that on the surface might seem hostile to his views.”
Obama’s approach is to emphasize that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to gun ownership while downplaying his history of votes in favor of gun control:
“Obama has long backed gun-control measures, including a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month. He has declined to take a stance on the legality of the handgun prohibition in Washington, D.C., which the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing, although Obama has voiced support for the right of state and local governments to regulate guns.
In the Senate, he and Clinton broke on one vote, in July 2006. Siding with gun-rights advocates, Obama voted to prohibit the confiscation of firearms during an emergency or natural disaster. Clinton was one of 16 senators to oppose the amendment.
A two-page white paper on Obama’s website doesn’t mention his voting record.
Instead, he introduces himself as a former constitutional law professor who “believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms.”
“He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting,” the paper states. “He also believes that the right is subject to reasonable and common sense regulation.”
The NRA and others describe Obama’s approach as trying to walk a “Third Way” tightrope:
“Obama’s approach is similar to one advocated by Third Way, which issued a seven-step blueprint in 2006 to close the “gun gap” with Republicans. In a memo on its website, the group urges progressives to avoid silence on gun issues, and instead “redefine the issue in a way that appeals to gun owning voters.”
Among the key steps, according to Third Way: “Own the Second Amendment” and “Take Your Message Directly to Gun Owners — Don’t Let Your Opponent Define You.”
The National Rifle Association posted an article on its website in February warning members against buying into Obama and Clinton, who were using the “scripted rhetorical tricks in the Third Way playbook to the letter.”
Obama has reportedly gained support in rural areas but some Pennsylvanians aren’t buying it:
“Melody Zullinger, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs who received the Obama campaign e-mail on his gun record, said Obama sounds like he is “speaking out of both sides of his mouth.”
“I was at one of our county meetings last night and I mentioned this to [federation members],” Zullinger said Friday of the Obama outreach. “Everyone basically blew it off and weren’t buying it.”
No voter agrees with every candidate on every issue and not every voter will consider gun control a litmus test issue. However, Obama has consistently supported gun control so I don’t see how a voter who opposes gun control can support him.
Sometimes it seems that Obama is a stealth candidate on almost every issue.