Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul reached out to gun advocates on Saturday, trying to shore up support from a major voting bloc in Kentucky also being courted by his Democratic opponent.
The Bowling Green eye doctor whose campaign Web site sports footage of him blasting away with an automatic rifle signed autographs and glad-handed with well wishers at a Louisville gun show. It’s not an unusual venue for Paul, who attended similar events during his GOP primary race.
“I’m a proud defender of the Second Amendment,” Paul, a member of the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, told gun advocates Saturday. “We must be ever vigilant of our Second Amendment Rights.”
Murray Republican Lewis Drake worked his way through a throng to encourage Paul, son of former Republican presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul, to continue his candor on the issues.
“I want honesty,” Drake said. “Our country is in a terrible fix, and trying to find out the truth is hard to do. That’s what I like about Rand Paul. He tells it like it is.”
Some of Paul’s recent statements, however, had sparked widespread anger, causing him to retreat from the national scene for nearly two weeks. He had suggested that government shouldn’t require private businesses to serve minorities. He defended the oil company blamed for the Gulf oil spill. And he told a Russian TV station that babies of illegal immigrants shouldn’t automatically receive U.S. citizenship.
Paul addressed none of those issues on Saturday, instead putting the focus on gun rights.
Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway in the November general election in Kentucky, where the NRA routinely gets involved.
Conway, the state’s attorney general, also is vying for the NRA endorsement, said campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley.
“Jack Conway is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and gun owners’ rights,” Haley said, noting that the group has given Conway an “A” rating for his record on gun issues.
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