The senator from the South Side of Chicago is downplaying his record and saying his legal training tells him the Constitution creates an individual right to bear arms, an issue recently argued at the U.S. Supreme Court. "The pitch from Obama may prove to be a tough sell with this state, where polling shows four in 10 voters — with higher percentages in rural areas — own a firearm," Carrie Budoff Brown writes. "But it is a requisite if he hopes to expand his appeal beyond the state’s metropolitan areas" in the April 22 primary.
The effort may also indicate whether Obama can reach rural voters in states with May primaries -- Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky and Oregon-- and, if he is the Democratic nominee, "can position himself as an acceptable choice to a conservative-minded demographic in later primary contests and in the general election," Brown writes. She quotes Jim Kessler, policy vice president at progressive think tank Third Way: “Guns are a cultural lens through which they view candidates. If you are seen as way off on that issue, then you seem way off on everything. If you are seen as OK, if the lens is clearer, then they continue to look at you and size you up on other things.”
Early indications are that voters for whom the Second Amendment is a voting issue will be a tough sell. Brown reports, "Melody Zullinger, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, who received the Obama campaign e-mail on his gun record, said Obama sounds like he is “speaking out of both sides of his mouth. I was at one of our county meetings last night and I mentioned this. Everyone basically blew it off and weren’t buying it.”
A better bet may be to line up and highlight Second Amendment stalwarts. Brown quotes a pro-gun Democrat who was leaning to Hillary Clinton but started asking about Obama when he saw a leading pro-gun Democrat wearing an Obama button. Brown notes that Obama has a slightly more pro-gun record in the Senate because he "voted to prohibit the confiscation of firearms during an emergency or natural disaster. Clinton was one of 16 senators to oppose the amendment." (Read more)