The Washington Times - October 4, 2012, 08:04PM

FISHERSVILLE, Va. — The National Rifle Association on Thursday endorsed Mitt Romney minutes before the Republican presidential nominee prepared to speak to a loud crowd in the Shenandoah Valley full of NRA supporters.

“It is the NRA that protects the Second Amendment. I am proud to have their support for my candidacy, and when I am president, I will do all in my power to defend and protect the right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms,” Mr. Romney said in a statement touting the group’s backing.

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The NRA’s backing was not a surprise, and it’s not clear how much more of a boost Mr. Romney needs in the gun-rights community.

But it does bring the prospect of added ground troops in places like Virginia, where hundreds supporters at Mr. Romney’s rally sported blaze-orange NRA caps and held NRA hand fans with the slogan “Defend Freedom — Defeat Obama.”

More than backing Mr. Romney, however, the NRA’s message was to oust President Obama at all costs.

“We stand on the edge of an Obama cliff of freedom,” said NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, warning of “an anti-Second Amendment, anti-freedom rampage” if Mr. Obama is re-elected.