Appearing before the National Rifle Association, Mitt Romney was accorded the reception that might be expected for a Republican candidate who used to brag about how his positions on gun issues “don’t line up with the NRA“ but who now says, “If we are going to safeguard our Second Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.”
The response was relatively warm but more than a little bit skeptical.
The Los Angeles Times was gentle in its description, suggesting that the now all-but-certain Republican nominee “may not have been the sentimental favorite among the speakers at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.”
So who did they love?
The Republican governor of Wisconsin was accorded a hero’s welcome when he appeared Friday before the NRA’s “Celebration of American Values” forum to accept the group’s “Defender of Freedom” award.
And he handed them raw meat. “I am proud to have a rifle, a shotgun and even a bow,” Walker told the crowd of 5,500 people in St. Louis.
But the real winning line was Walker’s absolute embrace of the state-based “Kill at Will” laws—such as the “Castle Doctine” measure he signed in Wisconsin—that have become so controversial since it was revealed that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law had so complicated the investigation and prosecution of the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin. “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground” create new levels of immunity for gunmen, complicating the work of police and prosecutors.
Walker, a long-time member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has worked with the NRA to promote “Castle Doctrine” and “Stand Your Ground” laws, was honored for signing concealed-carry and “Castle Doctrine” laws and then delivered a speech laced with gun-play rhetoric.
“I have become a target,” declared Walker, who was forced to face a June 5 recall election, after close to 1 million Wisconsinites signed petitions demanding an accountability moment. “The advocates of big government view me as a threat. They want to take me out.”