NRA ads up the ante against Kerry (link)
POMEROY, Ohio -- Sure, Wayne Pullins has seen the pictures of Senator John F. Kerry hunting. It seems to Pullins that every chance the Democratic nominee for president gets, he picks up a shotgun and aims at something -- and makes sure the cameras are close by to shoot him.
But Pullins isn't buying it.
"He's [gone] out and done the photo PR of shooting trap and one thing and another," said Pullins, who owns the Pioneer Hunting Depot on Main Street. "It makes him look progun. But I don't care what you say. Your actions will tell me who you are. His actions tell me he's antigun."
The National Rifle Association is running an aggressive campaign against Kerry this year in this once-grand Appalachian town across the Ohio River from West Virginia, all across the Buckeye State, and in other battleground states, too. By Election Day, the group will have spent $20 million on television spots, billboards, radio advertising, leaflets, and district-by-district voter mobilization in the hopes of convincing the NRA's 4 million members -- and the rest of the 4 in 10 Americans who own guns -- that a Kerry administration threatens their Second Amendment rights.
In one spot, running in high rotation in Ohio and other swing states, NRA lobbyist Chris Cox urges sportsmen not to be fooled by Kerry's assertions that he is a hunter. "He just plays one on TV," Cox says.
NRA leaflets and billboards feature a white poodle sporting a pink bow and a blue Kerry sweater, and the slogan, "That dog don't hunt."
The NRA cites votes by Kerry in his 20-year Senate career supporting gun control measures, such as the recently expired ban on assault semiautomatic weapons, and his votes and public statements favoring making some California land off-limits to hunters, allowing lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and closing a loophole allowing some people to buy guns at gun shows without submitting to background checks. When the assault weapons ban expired in September, Kerry criticized President Bush for failing to push the ban -- which Bush said he supported -- back onto the Republican-dominated House agenda.
The NRA ran a similar, though smaller-scale, campaign against Vice President Al Gore in 2000. The group and some Democrats claim the NRA characterization of Gore as antigun helped sway voters in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas. "It just really made an impact on Gore," said Sue Maison, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Meigs County, which includes Pomeroy. "They had leaflets, commercials on TV, T-shirts. This area is very rural, and it's a hunter's paradise, and they played a huge role in defeating Gore."