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Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, Varmint Hunters

April 13, 2008

In presidential politics, when the going gets tough, the wannabe tough go for their guns. So almost exactly a year after failed Republican White House contender Mitt Romney comically declared himself a "hunter pretty much all my life," Hillary Clinton today bragged about her gunslinging past. Hoping to capitalize on Barack Obama's gaffe about "bitter" small town people and their guns, Hillary like Mitt before her joined the ranks of varmint hunters.
Speaking to a crowd in Indiana, Clinton portrayed herself as the Second Amendment's best friend and a duck's worst enemy:

"You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage that my grandfather built on a little lake called Lake Winola outside of Scranton and taught be how to shoot when I was a little girl," she said.

But while Senator Clinton was quick to add that she hunted ducks in her youth, she was less than forthcoming about the last time she fired a gun in leisure. As CNN noted:

Hillary Clinton said Sunday a query about the last time she fired a gun or attended church services "is not a relevant question in this debate" over Barack Obama's recent comments on small town Americans.

Sadly for Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney's experience shows it is very relevant question, indeed. Like the New York Senator, the former Massachusetts Governor on April 3, 2007:

"I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life."

Pressed for details by a skeptical media, Romney two days later owned up to his poser status as a hunter:

"I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. 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."

(Romney's gun troubles only deepened in December when he wrongly claimed a 2002 endorsement from the National Rifle Association he did not in fact receive.)
As the history shows, facility with firearms while hunting is no path to the White House. Clipping a goose during an October 2004 duck hunting tip didn't make John Kerry President of the United States. It did, however, ironically earn him the derision of Vice President Dick Cheney.
While gunplay may not get you to the Oval Office, it can get you the #2 slot or a place on the United States Supreme Court. Two years before he accidentally blasted his close friend in the face, Dick Cheney went duck hunting with his close friend Antonin Scalia. When Cheney's energy task force case later came before the Court, Scalia saved his fire for those calling on him to recuse himself.
As for Hillary Clinton, she may yet score points in her effort to benefit from Obama's verbal misstep. But more likely, her comical claims about her hunting past will make look a less presidential, and a lot more like Mitt Romney.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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