The National Rifle Association said Wednesday that Barack Obama’s campaign is trying to mislead voters about his past support of gun control, calling the Democratic candidate "a poster child of the extremist, elitist gun control movement."
The group was responding to recent remarks by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat who supports gun rights and told reporters this week that Obama "ain’t ever going to take your gun away." Schweitzer, who has the NRA’s support in his re-election bid, added that there is little difference between the Democrat and Republican John McCain.
The NRA said Schweitzer was misrepresenting the candidates’ positions.
"To somehow suggest (Obama) is supportive of gun owners because he says so when he is in Montana running for president is absurd," the NRA’s Chris W. Cox said in a telephone interview from Virginia. "We are going to make sure that anybody that tells Montana gun owners that Barack Obama is not a threat to gun owners is exposed as someone who is not shooting straight."
Schweitzer said Wednesday he stands by his comments.
The Obama campaign said Schweitzer was right on the mark, noting the governor had said Obama is more outspoken than McCain on protecting hunting access to public lands.
The Obama campaign has stressed to Western voters that the candidate’s support of "sensible" gun control won’t get in the way of their traditions. But it has not released specifics on what type of gun measures Obama would deem sensible.
"The NRA is wrong to suggest we are misleading anybody," said Obama spokesman Caleb Weaver, adding: "Gun owners have nothing to fear from Barack Obama."
Obama has hired a staff and is running campaign ads in his quest for Montana’s three electoral votes, hoping to be only the third Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1948.
The NRA plans to spend $40 million nationally this campaign season, and has yet to determine how much will be spent in individual states.