Despite an earlier uproar, National Rifle Association President Kayne Robinson has yet to set foot inside the Oval Office.
Heck, he hasn’t even been invited to a White House tea.
“I understand White House tours have started up again,” says Mr. Robinson, who earlier this year was elected to succeed Charlton Heston as the NRA’s top gun.
A former Des Moines assistant police chief and chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, who helped organize the 1999 Iowa straw poll and 2000 presidential caucus, the first in the nation, had anti-gun activists grabbing for their slingshots when he vowed during the 2000 campaign that the NRA would work out of the White House with George W. Bush as president.
“Hyperbole,” Mr. Robinson admits in an interview with Inside the Beltway, although he’s quick to point out that for eight years President Clinton ran the anti-gun lobby out of the White House “and a lot of his daily visitors — they were practically employees.”
“My point was that if we had any hope of a fair shake it would be with a change of presidents,” he says. “I think the point I made was right, and I stand by it.”
With an estimated 90 million gun owners in the United States, and 4 million NRA members, Mr. Robinson doesn’t have to look far for support.
“Wherever we go we find a friendly audience,” he says, although adding that it’s somewhat “formidable” to follow Mr. Heston — “a great American and icon” — on stage. The ailing actor served in the NRA’s top post for an unprecedented five years.
They’re critical swing voters who haven’t yet made up their minds.
So, top Bush administration officials, including Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, as well as House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others in her party are reaching out — as one — to a new voter bloc of women entrepreneurs.
Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the largest “bipartisan” women’s business organization, yesterday wrapped up a third annual leadership meeting in Washington with a plan to enact a “We Decide” initiative for 2004 national and local elections.
“Women business leaders represent an emerging power base in American politics that positions women entrepreneurs as the critical swing vote in the 2004 elections,” Terry Neese, president of WIPP, tells us.
She estimates that a “diverse group of 10 million” women in this country “is not yet locked into any political party or presidential candidate.”
Name that tune
Thanks to literally hundreds of Inside the Beltway readers who’ve suggested appropriate campaign theme songs for several of the announced (and unannounced) 2004 presidential candidates.
Here’s a final song list:
The Clintons: “We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us About” (Brad Holmes, Sedona, Ariz.)
Bill Clinton: “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away” (Richard Bussell, Santa Clarita, Calif.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The Party’s Over” (Frank Soldat, North Olmsted, Ohio)
Carol Moseley Braun: “Jesse’s Girl” (Daniel Magan, Cleveland, Ohio)
John Kerry: “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” (Floyd J. Kezele, Gallup, N.M.)
Carol Moseley Braun: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” (Dan Godzich, Phoenix, Ariz.)
Al Sharpton: “Deacon Blues” (Ryan J. Baker, Atlanta, Ga.)
John Edwards: “Who Are You?” (Rich Schmick, Kansas City, Mo.)
John Kerry: “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?” (Barry Hill, Annapolis)
Al Sharpton: “All I Need Is a Miracle” (Robert Cooper, Breckenridge, Colo.)
Howard Dean: “I Started a Joke” (Maureen Humphrey, Triangle, Va.)
John Edwards: “Summer Wind” (Pauline Sammons, Logan, W.Va.)
The Democratic Field: “Send in the Clowns” (Cara Lege, Frisco, Texas)
Joe Lieberman “Goodbye Again” (James C. Anderson, Greenbelt)
Bob Graham: “I Wanna Be Sedated” (Daniel Magan, Cleveland, Ohio)
Howard Dean: “It’s Yesterday Once More” (Steve Barrett, Chattanooga, Tenn.)
George W. Bush: “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” (Greg Barnard, Franklin, Tenn.)
George W. Bush: “Takin’ Care of Business” (Robert Cooper, Breckenridge, Colo.)
George W. Bush: “Whiskey for My Men, Beer for My Horses” (Matt Franker, Annandale, Va.)
George W. Bush: “I Walk the Line” (Amy C. Reeder, Arlington)
George Bush: “Landslide” (Joe Menavich, Potomac Falls, Va.)
No Particular Politician: “I’m Just a Bug on the Windshield of Life” (Tony Phelps, Frederick, Md.)
Al Sharpton: “I May Be Used But Baby I Ain’t Used Up” (Debi Chesson)
John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or email@example.com.