BOARDMAN, Ohio — Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry, who has repeatedly brandished firearms during the presidential campaign, bought himself a camouflaged jacket and went goose hunting yesterday in this swing state.
By all accounts it was a successful effort: one bird killed by each of the four men in the hunting party.
But those bloody details were kept far away from the watchful eyes of the 35 reporters and photographers who had been roused early in the morning and hauled out to the farm where Mr. Kerry was to hunt.
“Everybody got one,” Mr. Kerry said upon returning from a duck blind on the edge of a recently harvested cornfield beside a marsh.
He held his over-under double-barrel shotgun in the crook of his arm and flashed a thumbs up as he passed the scrum of reporters who had no formal opportunities to ask questions and could only film and photograph him in his hunting garb with his gun.
It was an opportunity, spokesman Mike McCurry said earlier this week, to get a “better sense of John Kerry, the guy.”
But some electoral advantage was being sought as well. Like Ohio, most of the battleground states this year have strong gun-rights traditions and will vote against a politician if enough doubts are raised about his allegiance to the Second Amendment.
Many election analysts think Vice President Al Gore’s hostility to gun rights cost him states such as West Virginia, Ohio and even his home state of Tennessee, any of which would have won him the election regardless of what happened in Florida.
Mr. Kerry, determined not to repeat the mistake, often accepts guns as gifts during campaign rallies and always displays them proudly before the cheering crowd.
That strategy appears to be paying off, said National Rifle Association President Kayne B. Robinson, who called Mr. Kerry “the most anti-gun candidate we’ve ever had.”
He told The Washington Times earlier this week that Mr. Kerry has been “extremely effective” at taking “the tension out of gun ownership so it is not an election issue, and it is a brilliant strategy on his part.”
Nevertheless, the NRA has rented billboards and paid for other advertisements attacking Mr. Kerry. The group purchased a full-page advertisement in yesterday’s editions of the local Youngstown Vindicator.
And the Bush campaign certainly isn’t being silent.
Vice President Dick Cheney said in Sylvania, Ohio, yesterday that Mr. Kerry’s new hunting coat was “an October disguise — an effort he’s making to hide the fact that he votes against gun ownership rights at every turn.”
“My fellow sportsmen, this cover-up isn’t going to work,” said Mr. Cheney, an avid hunter. “The Second Amendment is more than just a photo opportunity.”View Entire Story
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