Are Guns The Keys To The Kingdom For McCain?

Judging by the rapidity of the RNC's reaction to DC v. Heller, the craftmanship of McCain's statement and the sudden appearance of McCain surrogates on the cable networks, the answer is: he thinks do. McCain adviser Steve Schmidt likes to say that elections are about contrasts, the campaign has been looking for issues to draw clean, unsubtle distinctions between the two candidates. There is a particular demographic group in the balance here: white, working class men. It's another example of two different approaches to the electorate. McCain has different things to say to different groups of people -- not inconsistent things, but just different things -- while Obama's message is holistic.

Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

The RNC's first memo is titled: "OBAMA'S SUPREME MISTAKE ON GUNS The Supreme Court Rules Against Obama's Anti-Gun Views On D.C. Gun Ban, Further Demonstrating Obama Is Most Anti-Gun Presidential Candidate In History."

In part this aggressiveness serves as a prophylactic against what the McCain campaign thinks Obama will do, which is to say that he never opposed the DC gun ban in the first place. You can read the two RNC research memos after the jump.



Obama Filled Out ’96 Questionnaire Indicating Support For Banning Handguns, Claimed He Didn’t Fill It Out:

In Response To A 1996 Independent Voters Of Illinois Questionnaire, Obama Indicated That He Supported Banning The “Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns.” Question from a 1996 Independent Voters of Illinois questionnaire: “Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” Obama’s answer: “Yes.” (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)

Obama’s Campaign Claims He Did Not Fill Out The Questionnaire. “Aides claim Obama did not fill out the questionnaire, and instead it was handled by a staffer who misrepresented his views on gun control, the death penalty and more.” (Todd Venezia, “Going Barack & Forth,” The New York Post, 12/23/07)

* Obama Spokesman Ben LaBolt: “Obama never saw the ‘96 IVI-IPO state Senate questionnaire -- it was filled out by a staffer who unintentionally mischaracterized his views on a number of issues …” (Lynn Sweet, “The Past Haunts Obama?” Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/07)

* “LaBolt Said The Staffer Was Then-Obama State Senate Campaign Manager Carol Harwell, Who Could Not Be Reached … For Comment.” (Lynn Sweet, “The Past Haunts Obama?” Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/07)

During 4/16 Dem. Debate, Obama Falsely Claimed His Handwriting Did Not Appear On Questionnaire. “Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., maintained at Wednesday’s ABC News debate in Philadelphia that his handwriting does not appear on a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns. The Democratic presidential frontrunner made this claim even though a copy of the original document suggests otherwise. … When asked about the gun questionnaire with the handwriting on it, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs did not dispute that the writing was Obama’s.” (Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib, “Obama Forgets Writing On Gun Questionnaire,” ABC News’ “Political Radar” Blog,, 4/18/08)

* 4/16 Dem. Debate Included Obama False Claim On Questionnaire. “On guns, moderator Charles Gibson asked about a questionnaire with Obama’s writing on one page and an answer on another that said Obama favored banning handguns. Obama answered: ‘No, my writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.’ The Clinton campaign helpfully handed out copies of the questionnaire later that did have Obama’s writing on it, and the gun opposition. The Obama camp insists Obama did not see the relevant page, or another in a similar questionnaire.” (Michael McAuliff, “Pushing Wafles,” [New York] Daily News’ “Mouth Of The Potomac” Blog,, 4/17/08)

A Spokesman For IVI-IPO Denies The Campaign’s Claims. “A spokesman for the Illinois group said the excuse is ridiculous because they interviewed him in person.” (Todd Venezia, “Going Barack & Forth,” The New York Post, 12/23/07)

Amended Version Of ’96 Questionnaire Leads To Further Skepticism Of Obama’s Claims. “During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion — positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he has projected during his presidential campaign. The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)

* “Obama Was Actually Interviewed.” “[A] Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago nonprofit group that issued it. And it found that Obama — the day after sitting for the interview — filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes added to one answer.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)

* “Unbelievable” Obama Never Saw Questionnaire. “Dobry, Patt and current IVI-IPO state chairman David K. Igasaki, a Clinton supporter, agreed Obama likely didn’t write every word of his campaign’s 1996 answers. But they all dismissed as unbelievable his presidential campaign’s assertion that Obama never saw or signed off on the state Senate questionnaires.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)

Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:44 AM

RNC Research

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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