Mitt Romney becomes first 2008 Presidential candidate to pander to hunters

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2007:
KEENE, N.H.– Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on
April 3, 2007 became the first 2008 Presidential contender to
identify himself as a hunter, and the first to be embarrassed when
his claims about hunting could not be verified.
Questioned at a campaign event in Keene, New Hampshire,
about his position on gun control, Romney responded, “I support the
Second Amendment. I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve
been a hunter pretty much all my life. I’ve never really shot
anything terribly big,” Romney confessed. “I used to hunt rabbits.
“Shooting a rabbit with a single-shot .22 is pretty hard,”
Romney added, so–according to his statements–he switched to using
a semiautomatic rifle.
Associated Press political reporter Glen Johnson investigated
Romney’s story.

“In boasting about his lifelong experience as a hunter,
Romney may have shot himself in the foot,” Johnson concluded. “The
Republican contender has told audiences on several occasions, most
recently this week in gun-savvy and early voting New Hampshire, that
he has been a longtime hunter. But it turns out he has been on only
two hunting trips, at the bookends of his 60 years: as a
15-year-old, when he hunted rabbits with his cousins on a ranch in
Idaho, and last year, when he shot quail on a fenced game preserve
in Georgia.
“The 2006 trip was an outing with major donors to the
Republican Governors Association,” Johnson noted, “which Romney
headed at the time.”
Said Romney, after shooting the captive-reared quail, “I
knocked quite a few birds and enjoyed myself a great deal.”
Reported Dave Wedge of the Boston Herald soon after that
expedition, “The governor and 15 others piled into four buggies at
The Lodge at Cabin Bluff in Georgia and killed several quail,
according to preserve manager Patty Daniels.”
Affirmed Daniels, “They did kill quite a few quail. But I
don’t know how many Romney personally killed.”
“The report that I only hunted twice is incorrect,” Romney
responded at an appearance in Indianapolis, three days after
Johnson’s article appeared. “I’ve hunted small game numerous times,
as a young man and as an adult,” Romney insisted, while admitting,
“I’m by no means a big game hunter. I’ve always been a rodent and
rabbit hunter, small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or
so, and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than
two times.”
Said Associated Press, “His staff refused to provide details
about his hunting history, including whose gun he used, with whom
he hunted and whether he hunted in Utah as a college student or as an
adult. Romney does not own a firearm, despite claiming to earlier
this year.”
Recalled Johnson, “During a 1994 U.S. Senate campaign,
Romney said he supported the Brady gun control law and a ban on
assault-style rifles.”
In the 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign, Johnson
continued, “Romney pledged to do nothing to change the state’s
firearms statutes.”
Said Romney then, “We do have tough gun laws in
Massachusetts. I support them. I won’t chip away at them. I
believe they protect us and provide for our safety.”
Wrote Johnson, “True to his word, Romney went on to sign one
of the toughest assault weapons laws in the country.”
However, Johnson added, “The ban on assault-style weapons
included provisions extending the term of a firearms identification
card and a license to carry weapons from four years to six years. It
also created a Firearm License Review Board to provide an appeals
process for people whose license applications had been denied.
“In 2006,” Johnson continued, “Romney signed National Rifle
Association-backed legislation creating exemptions for makers of
customized target pistols who had found it too expensive to sell
their guns in Massachusetts because of a state regulation requiring
them to test at least five examples of new products ‘until
Added Johnson, “In January, Romney was touting such measures
as he and his wife Ann toured the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor
Trade Show in Orlando, Florida, with Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s
executive vice president.” Romney admitted seeking NRA endorsement
of his candidacy.

Rodeo, dissection

Even before coming out as a self-proclaimed hunter, Romney
offended animal advocates on multiple occasions, beginning as
president of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympic
Games in Salt Lake City. The accompanying “Cultural Olympiad”
included a “Command Performance Rodeo.”
As a global campaign pressuring sponsors to cancel the rodeo
gained momentum, Romney convened a December 2001 meeting in Salt
Lake City with protest leaders including SHARK founder Steve Hindi,
Vermont veterinarian/attorney Peggy Larson, Eric Mills of Action for
Animals, Deb Probert of the Vancouver Humane Society, German
activist Mathilde Mench, local activist Colleen Gardner, and Tony
Moore, president of the Foundation Against Animal Cruelty in Europe.
All except Gardner, who lives in Salt Lake City, flew to the
meeting at their own expense.
All agreed that Romney at least came very close to promising
to exclude calf roping from the rodeo.
Both Salt Lake City mayoral spokes-person Joshua Ewing and
Romney’s own spokesperson, Caroline Shaw, affirmed the activists’
impression in media statements. Yet calf-roping went ahead as
Two and a half years later, as Massachusetts governor,
Romney in July 2004 vetoed a bill that would have guaranteed students
at all levels of education the right to opt out of dissection for
moral, ethical, or religious reasons.
The bill cleared the state senate 35-3, and was passed
unanimously by the house.
“Biomedical research is an important component of the
Commonwealth’s economy and job creation,” said Romney. “This bill
would send the unintended message that animal research is frowned

Took habitat funding

But Romney had already offended hunters, with a July 2003
appropriation bill that absorbed into the Massachusetts general fund
about $10 million which had been kept in a dedicated fund created
through sales of hunting and fishing licenses.
Romney moved to restore the dedicated fund three weeks later,
after encountering intense protest from the hunting and fishing
lobby–and after being warned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
that liquidating the dedicated fund would cost Massachusetts matching
grants provided by the Pittman-Robertson federal excise tax on
fishing and hunting equipment. The federal grants accounted for
about 60% of the Massachusetts wildlife department budget.
A similar controversy erupted in early 2005, after Romney
staged a pre-
Super Bowl rally in support of the New England Patriots, prominently
featuring himself, with about $45,000 from the Massa-chusetts
Department of Conservation & Recreation parks budget.
Four days after the rally, Romney fired DRC commissioner
Katherine Abbott for opposing the budget raid. Three days after
that, Romney forced second-ranking DCR official Pam DiBona to resign
as well.

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