What is it about presidential candidates from Massachusetts trying to woo the hunting vote?
Is Romney a Hunter? Depends on What Hunt Is
By MICHAEL LUO
Published: April 6, 2007
WASHINGTON, April 5 — In seeking their support for his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney has struggled over the last few months to reassure Republican conservatives that he is one of them.
When asked on Tuesday about his stance on guns, Mr. Romney, as he has more than once, portrayed himself as a sportsman, a “hunter pretty much all my life,” who strongly supported a right to bear arms.
He even trotted out some remembrances, recalling that in hunting with his cousins as a teenager, he struggled to kill rabbits with a single-shot .22-caliber rifle. When they lent him a semiautomatic, it got a lot easier, he said, drawing laughs from an appreciative crowd in Keene, N.H. The last time he went hunting, he said, was last year, when he shot quail in Georgia and “knocked down quite a few birds.”
“So I’ve been pretty much hunting all my life,” he said again.
But on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Romney had in fact been hunting only twice: once during that summer when he was 15 and spending time at a relative’s ranch in Idaho, and again on the occasion last year, a quail shoot at a fenced-in game preserve in Georgia with major donors to the Republican Governors Association.
On Thursday, with Mr. Romney facing reporters’ repeated questions about the A.P. account, his campaign was forced to address his hunting résumé. A campaign spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, said Mr. Romney had gone hunting repeatedly during his teenage summer at the ranch. Mr. Romney has also shot small game on his Utah property, said Mr. Fehrnstrom, who added that he did not know how often.
“Mitt Romney is not a big-game hunter,” he said, “but he knows how to handle a firearm.”
Remember these John Kerry photo-ops from the 2004 campaign?
Kerry’s Hunting Trip Targets Conservatives
By NEDRA PICKLER
Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
Updated: 4:00 p.m. PT Oct 21, 2004
BOARDMAN, Ohio – Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he bagged a goose on his swing-state hunting trip Thursday, but his real target was the voters who may harbor doubts about him.
Kerry returned after a two-hour hunting trip wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else carried his bird.
“I’m too lazy,” Kerry joked. “I’m still giddy over the Red Sox. It was hard to focus.”
The Massachusetts senator was referring to Boston’s American League championship Wednesday night. He stayed up late cheering his hometown team onto victory, then got up for a 7 a.m. hunting trip at a supporter’s produce farm.
Kerry adviser Mike McCurry said it’s important in the final days of the campaign that voters “get a better sense of John Kerry, the guy.”
That means the Democratic senator is spending some of the dwindling time before Election Day hunting, talking about his faith and watching his beloved Red Sox.
It’s all part of an effort to win over swing voters who may be open to voting against President Bush but aren’t sure they feel any connection with Kerry.
Campaigning in Ohio, Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday criticized Kerry’s hunting excursion, saying, “The second amendment is more than just a photo opportunity.”
The National Rifle Association said it bought a full-page ad in Thursday’s Youngstown newspaper that says Kerry is posing as a sportsman while opposing gun-owners’ rights. Kerry has denied NRA claims that he wants to “take away” guns, but he supported the ban on assault-type weapons and requiring background checks at gun shows
“If John Kerry thinks the Second Amendment is about photo ops, he’s Daffy,” says the ad the NRA said would run in The Vindicator. It features a large photo of Kerry with his finger on a shotgun trigger but looking in another direction.
Meanwhile, labor unions have been circulating fliers among workers that say Kerry won’t take away guns. “He likes his own gun too much,” says one of the fliers from the Building Trades Department of the AFL-CIO that features a picture of Kerry aiming a shotgun.
Kerry’s aides said he spent about two hours hunting at a blind set up in a cornfield. More than two dozen journalists were invited to the farm outside of Youngstown to see Kerry emerge from the field, but none witnessed Kerry taking any shots.
Kerry was accompanied by Ohio Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland; Bob Bellino, a member of Ducks Unlimited; and Neal Brady, assistant park manager of Indian Lake State Park in western Ohio. Each of his companions carried a dead goose on the way back, while Kerry walked beside them with his 12-gauge in one hand and the other free to pet a yellow Labrador named Woody.
Kerry said each of the four men shot a goose.
The last time Kerry went hunting was October 2003 in Iowa, a state where he was trailing in the Democratic primary but came from behind to win.
Hunting is of particular interest in several of the states that are still up for grabs in the presidential race. Kerry bought his hunting license last Saturday in one of the most critical _ Ohio, which has 20 electoral votes.
Kerry bought the nonresident license and a special wetlands habitat stamp, which lets him hunt waterfowl.
Memo to any would-be candidate: don’t pretend to be something you’re not to try to appeal to a voter bloc if you can’t back it up. Both of these attempts to connect with hunters reek of insincerity and they can probably smell it coming from a mile away.