Republicans Riled as NRA Endorses Some Democratic Incumbents

Thursday, 07 Oct 2010 02:10 PM

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The National Rifle Association has lit some Republicans’ fuses of late, as the traditionally GOP-friendly NRA has targeted some of its endorsement firepower toward backing Democrats. And not just a few six-shooters, either, more like rocket-propelled grenades, launching endorsements of nearly 60 House Democrats, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Breaking the tally down, the Post reports, shows that the NRA support is aimed at more than a dozen that operatives in both parties consider essential in the battle for the majority.

That especially rankles the Republicans, who steadfastly support the gun ownership battles of the NRA, which has a slogan proclaiming, "I'll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands!"

NRA, Republicans, Democrats, endorsements, Charlton HestonActor Charlton Heston made part of that slogan his trademark as NRA president from 1998 to 2003, even warning against electing Democrat Al Gore as president. One of the most memorable NRA moments came at its 2000 convention, when Heston defiantly lifted the replica of a rifle over his head and said: "from my cold, dead hands."

Despite the traditional GOP support, the Post notes, Republicans shouldn't take the Democratic endorsements personally because they result from the NRA’s longstanding “incumbent-friendly” policy, which backs the incumbent if two candidates support gun rights equally.

That’s little consolation to Republicans on the losing side of the endorsements.

The Post chronicles the chagrin of South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem, who has made her devotion to hunting a visible part of her campaign but now sees the NRA endorse the incumbent she is trying to unseat, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

Noem's campaign manager, Joshua Shields, told the Post that, regardless of Herseth Sandlin's record on gun issues, she would support whatever House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants. And Shields branded Pelosi as "one of the most anti-gun speakers Congress has ever had."

"We made that argument to the NRA," Shields told the Post. "Obviously, it didn't work."

The Democratic endorsements also leave Republicans with two problems: The Democrats can use the backing as evidence that they aren’t liberal, and the Republicans are left answering questions about why they didn’t get the endorsement, the Post reports.

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