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NRA ramps up Obama attacks

October 04, 2008|Dan Morain

The National Rifle Assn. is turning up the volume in its campaign against Barack Obama, airing more ads about his record on guns. Starting as early as Sunday, new spots will air in battlegrounds including Ohio, Virginia and Florida.

The NRA already has spots in Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Some use Obama's line, uttered at a San Francisco fundraiser, about "bitter" people clinging to their guns. Obama's attorneys sent letters asking that television stations cease airing the ads, but they continue to be shown on cable.

The NRA has set up a website attacking Obama and so far has disclosed spending $2.2 million on its independent expenditure campaign against the Democratic nominee, Federal Election Commission records show.

That's just a fraction of what the total will be. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the organization would end up spending well into the "eight figures" -- some have estimated as much as $40 million -- by Nov. 4. The group spent $20 million on ads against Sen. John F. Kerry in the presidential race four years ago.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "Obama has always believed that the 2nd Amendment protects the individual right to own a firearm."

The pro-gun group is claiming that Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history. But in the view of many Californians, his stand might not be such a bad thing. The state has led efforts to restrict military-style semiautomatic weapons, large magazines and the sale of cheap handguns most often used in robberies.

"I don't believe we'll be spending money in California," Arulanandam said.

-- Dan Morain

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