WASHINGTON: Democrats are altering their approach to the Second Amendment this year in hopes of wooing Southern and rural voters, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) says it's positioned to expose what it calls "camouflage candidates."
A group of Democratic pollsters and strategists sent a memo to all Democratic candidates last month urging them to accentuate their intention to let gun owners keep their firearms while stressing the need for gun safety. "By articulating their values," the memo read, "Democrats can speak to millions of moderate gun owners and make inroads in many states where owning a firearm is a way of life." Former Al Gore adviser Doug Hattaway, pollster Mark Penn, and Jon Cowan, president of Americans for Gun Safety, jointly composed the memo.
But the NRA, largely credited with tipping the balance in the 2000 presidential election by courting traditional Democratic voting blocs, is vowing to counter such "posturing."
"I think it's very naive for any politician, regardless of party affiliation, to try and mask himself as a 'gun-safety candidate' when he or she in fact supports gun controls and gun bans," said Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's director of public affairs.
"If John Kerry is trying to repackage himself as a hunter and sportsman, he may be able to sell that to his blue-blooded friends on Beacon Hill," Arulanandam said, referring to a photo circulated by Kerry's campaign in Iowa of the candidate hunting pheasant. "However, we will inform our members and the voters as to who John Kerry is."