NRA President Weighs in on Montana Races

Aaron Flint posted on October 02, 2012 08:23 :: 2381 Views

The President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) travelled the State of Montana Monday, delivering the endorsement of the nation’s powerful 2nd Amendment lobby in person. 

Monday morning NRA President David Keene, who also owns a ranch near Choteau, Montana, announced the NRA’s endorsement of Attorney General Candidate Tim Fox (R-MT).  Then, Keene made the trip to Billings where he announced the NRA’s endorsement of Republican US House candidate Steve Daines.

I had a chance to catch up with NRA President David Keene in Billings (click here to listen to the raw interview).  He says the 2012 elections are critical, with everything on the table for gun owners. 

“We endorsed Tim Fox in 2008, I told him that was just a practice run,” said Keene during an interview in downtown Billings. “Now he can do it right and he can win that race.” Keene added that it is important to have an Attorney General who will stand up for states rights versus the federal government. 

On Daines, Keene says, “I came here to Billings to endorse Steve Daines, who I think would be a great Congressman.  We’ve had Denny Rehberg in that seat who is a great 2nd Amendment supporter and is, and Steve would follow in that tradition.”   

The Daines campaign was quick to tout the endorsment of the NRA.  Here’s a screenshot from Daines’ ad, which Steve Daines told me was scheduled to first air on Montana TV stations Monday night.  (Click below to watch the full ad) 

The picture features Daines, his 14 year old daughter Caroline, and the antelope she shot near Ingomar, Montana.  Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan, an avid sportsmen, mentioned the picture during Daines’ first visit with the future VP candidate earlier this summer.


The campaign for Democratic Congressional candidate Kim Gillan shot off a response to Daines’ latest ad in an email to supporters.  “Steve Daines false, misleading attacks on Kim Gillan’s record of problem solving and standing up for Montanans is shameful,” said Dave Hoffman, Kim’s campaign manager.  “While this ad willfully misleads the public, it will not hide the fact that Steve Daines supports a budget that ‘ends Medicare as we know it,’ that he wants to turn back the clock on women’s health and make it harder for Montanans to go to college.  If those we’re my public stances on issues that matter most to Montanans I would try to change the conversation as well.”  Hoffman added, “Kim has been endorsed by the NRA in many of her local races here in Billings, and she strongly supports gun owners’ rights here in Montana.”

NRA President David Keene, who grew up 15 miles from Paul Ryan’s hometown in Wisconsin, credits the bi-partisan work of the NRA for strengthening and preserving gun owner rights and 2nd Amendment freedoms.  “We make it very clear that if you support the NRA, we’re not gonna turn on you. So sometimes we have races where you have two candidates who are very good on 2nd Amendment issues, and while we may have a favorite we have to step aside because of our own rules,” added Keene.  “That’s key to our credibility in Washington, because leaders in both parties know that if they stand with the NRA, the NRA’s not gonna desert them.”

So what about a candidate like Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) who, according to his  legislative record, may look pro-gun, but then votes for anti-gun judicial nominees, particularly to the US Supreme Court?  Will the NRA consider Tester’s votes for anti-gun judges when making their endorsement in the US Senate race in Montana?  According to Keene Monday night in Billings, “We are looking at all (votes)…We haven’t made a final decision.  We’ve announced our endorsements as they come out.  We look at a lot of things and then we make a judgment as to what we can do.”

With just over a month till the November election, we can likely expect to hear more from the NRA.  

As Keene puts it, “Everthing we’ve got, all the gains we’ve made over the last few decades are on the table this time.  For example, if Barack Obama gets 4 more years, he’s going to appoint 1 to 3 members of the Supreme Court.  They could reverse the decisions that have finally made clear that the 2nd amendment does apply to individual rights.  He can appoint judges down the line that can restrict gun rights at the lower levels.” 


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