Mitt Romney’s relationship with gun owners over the years has been tenuous at best. While campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 1994, he expressed support for five-day waiting periods and other gun control measures. And in 2004, as governor of Massachusetts, he signed an “assault weapons” ban. However, Romney says his views on firearms have changed and, starting with his 2007 presidential campaign, he’s sought rebirth as a pro-gun candidate.
Easier said than done. Gun owners are an uncompromising, unforgiving bloc of voters and they tend to have long memories. Indeed, members of Romney’s own party, especially Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, actively attacked his gun control past while they campaigned for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
Yet Romney appears to understand he needs the support of gun owners if he’s to defeat President Obama in November. How is he courting your vote given his less than stellar record on gun rights? To say the least, he’s gotten creative. Here are six ways he’s seeking your vote.
- Like Romney, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., faced a skeptical shooting community during his failed 2008 presidential bid. Despite an NRA endorsement, gun owners remained lukewarm on McCain right up to Election Day. Perhaps that’s because he never really gave them a strong reason to rally around him. Rather than admitting past mistakes or votes that were unfriendly to gun owners, McCain basically adopted a, “Hey, we don’t always have to agree,” campaign. Many shooters didn’t care for this tepid support, and it didn’t go far enough toward separating McCain’s views from those of candidate Obama.
Romney, on the other hand, acknowledges his past mistakes, says he learned that he was wrong about firearms, and insists his views have changed. Will gun owners trust in the sincerity of this message, or will they hold Romney’s past against him? We’ll know in two months.