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Primary Involvement?

Jacob picks up on a statement by Chris Cox:

“Historically, we have not gotten involved in primaries. We traditionally wait until after the conventions,” said Chris Cox, head lobbyist for the NRA. “That being said, given the candidates and the process and the front-loading of the primaries, it is a possibility that we could get involved in one of these presidential primaries.”

And comments:

What I would do in NRAs case would be a targeted mailing in certain states stating Fred Thompson and Bill Richardson are the prefered candidates in each party’s primary. No need to make up separate mailers, just list both guys on a single postcard to keep costs down. I wouldn’t give anyone an endorsement until after the primary.

I would consider only half of that.  I think it could be smart for NRA to become involved in the Democratic primary, because Bill Richardson has been a real friend to gun owners in the past, and all the other serious contenders are absolutely no friends of ours.  If you can give Bill enough of a boost to where he’s a serious threat to the other two candidates, you force Hillary and Obama to spend more money defeating their primary opponents.  It also will hold the Republican candidates feet to the fire, with the prospects a pro-gun democrat winning the endorsement in the general election.   It wouldn’t make much sense, in my opinion, to get involved if Richardson is a lost cause.

I don’t think under any circumstance it makes sense to back a candidate in the Republican primary.  If you pick a losing candidate, the eventual nominee is going to hold it against you that you actively helped his opponent.  In the general election, it might come down to two candidates hating you, whereas if you had stayed out, you might have been able to work with the eventual nominee, even if he turned out to be less than ideal.

I agree with Jacob that it makes sense to get involved in primaries because it’s easier to affect change in them, but one must use caution.  When you have multiple candidates vying for NRA’s affections, as is happening now in the current Republican primary, it wouldn’t be smart politics, in my view, to endorse one of them.  If you have a pro-gun challenger sparring with all anti-gun candidates, then it might make sense.

2 Responses to “Primary Involvement?”

  1. Bitter says:

    And I think his choice of the words “one of these presidential primaries” is key.

    Just because followers tend to lean right doesn’t mean they should assume he’s talking about the GOP. There’s more to be gained by sending a message to the Democrats, at least in the context of stopping future attacks. If Richardson did just a bit better than expected in the primaries, and they endorsed him, I think we’d see the Democrats back off gun control even more.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I agree, but there’s a risk that if he doesn’t do better, Democrats could think “The NRA holds no real sway with our base.” and feel more confident in ignoring us.

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