Perfect storm for gun owners? McCain, DeWine and Giuliani join forces

FLASH UPDATE: ROMNEY SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN - "If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."
----- Author's note: Clearly the events of the day have rendered a few of the specifics of this commentary moot, but have enhanced the overall point - the storm clouds have opened up on gun owners.

By Chad D. Baus

"Traditionally, whomever is leading in polling one year ahead of the Presidential primaries becomes the eventual party nominee. If tradition holds true...there is a storm on the horizon..."

It's been little more than one year since I wrote those words, warning of dark clouds looming for the Second Amendment in the 2008 Presidential election.

Despite all the polls, I didn't need a crystal ball back then to know that when the Republican base got to know "America's mayor", anti-gun New Yorker Rudy Giuliani would struggle to capture the hearts and minds of Middle America. Indeed Giuliani failed to win a single early primary state and has now exited the race.

But his endorsement of Senator John McCain, coupled with anti-gun former Senator Mike DeWine's work as McCain's Ohio campaign chair as a prelude to a possible Attorney General nomination, proves the danger to the Second Amendment in this Presidential election is far from over.

Indeed, with each passing day, it appears the perfect storm that we've been warning gun owners about for the past year is nearly overhead.

With the conservative vote split between three or four candidates, pro-gunner Fred Thompson lost early momentum and withdrew from the race. The late-fall "Hucka-surge" in national polls quickly dried up, and the only thing pro-gunner Mike Huckabee seems to be accomplishing these days is to suck the anti-McCain votes from Gov. Mitt Romney in the South, allowing McCain to attain front-runner status on Super Tuesday (and increasing his chances of being asked to join the McCain ticket as V.P.).

In the early days of this long Presidential election cycle, much of the concern expressed by pro-Second Amendment forces was focused on anti-gun ex-Mayor Giuliani. And for good reason. Leading in the polls, Giuliani, whose anti-gun record is more comparable to Senators Clinton or Obama than any of his Republican rivals, was being propped up by the establishment media as unbeatable.

Far less ink has been given to Senator John McCain's record on guns. To be sure, dedicated pro-gun writers like Tim Inwood, John R. Lott, Dave Kopel, Gerard Valentino, as well as yours truly, have been telling the story on McCain, but unlike Giuliani, whose dismal record on guns was always the elephant in the Republican room, McCain seems to escape the inevitable "Does your record on guns hurt you with the Republican base?" interview question on Meet the Press. (It remains to be seen whether the media will begin to ask McCain the gun control question at this late hour, given that anti-gun Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg of New Jersey has introduced a bill that would prohibit the private sale of firearms between citizens attending gun shows - something McCain has supported in the past, along with banning less expensive guns and so-called assault weapons, and requiring gunlocks.)

----- Author's note: Clearly the events of the day have rendered a few of the specifics of this commentary moot, but have enhanced the overall point - the storm clouds have opened up on gun owners.

With Super Tuesday giving an advantage, but not a knock-out punch, to media-favorite McCain, pundits are now predicting that the race to the GOP nomination may well depend on which candidate wins Ohio's delegates. And because a three-man race benefits McCain, and a continued inter-party battle makes riveting t.v., the media had a strong incentive on Super Tuesday to keep the candidacy of Mike Huckabee on life-support.

The fact the pro-McCain media pundits fail to mention in their "Huckabee the come back kid" speeches was that before Buckeye State voters have our say on March 4, there will be many more February primaries in regions of the country where Romney has already proven to be able to generate votes, and where Mike Huckabee has failed to connect. Indeed, Huckabee's strong showing in southern states hid the fact that he has not won outside of the South since Iowa, and showed little strength in the Midwest, Northeast and West on Super Tuesday. Romney, on the other hand, demonstrated considerable strength nationwide on Super Tuesday, from Georgia to Colorado, and from Massachusetts to Utah, and points in-between.

It is highly unlikely that even an incentivized media, eager for the conservative vote-splitting to continue to help their guy McCain, will be able to create the appearance of a viable Huckabee candidacy by March 4. As such, many Buckeye State voters who put the Second Amendment first among their preferences for a candidate are wisely looking past the media's Huckabee side-show and asking me, "Between McCain and Romney, who has the edge on the gun issue?"

A bit of full disclosure is necessary on my part before I attempt to answer this question:

First, last fall I was named as a delegate for Fred Thompson. (My reasons for supporting Mr. Thompson included, and went far beyond the gun issue, and do not merit discussion in this one-issue forum. More on topic, however, and also in the interest of full disclosure, I was offered the position of Thompson's Ohio Second Amendment Coalition Chair before he exited the race.)

Second, I am no fan of Mitt Romney, principly because of his record on the gun issue. In fact, I wrote some mighty powerful words back in April 2007, in an article entitled "Will you be Mitt Romney's cheap date?":

"Well, Mitt, you can save your empty gun-guy platitudes for some other cheap date. I, for one, ain't carryin' your beer (or your petitions, or your yard signs, or your handbills, or your absentee voting cards)."

Clearly I am not pleased with the choice that pro-gun voters are being asked to make in the March 4 primary. And yet the choice must be made. So let us examine the options.

Option #1 - Vote pro-gun, even if that means a throw-away vote.
Throw-away options include a vote for Ron Paul (please save the protest emails, folks, he hasn't had a prayer since Day 1 and you ought to know that), Mike Huckabee (please save the protest emails until after he wins something above the Mason-Dixon line), or Fred Thompson (whose name will be on the ballot, but for whom votes will not be counted).

I take my right to vote too seriously to have ever been a "throw-away vote" type of guy. Then again, the alternative is as much against what I stand for as is Option #1.

Option #2 - Decide between McCain or Romney as to who presents less of a threat to gun rights, and vote for the lesser of two evils.

As I told Mike DeWine when he called me last week, asking that I switch my allegiance to McCain (remember, I am a Fred delegate), I am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, because all we get is more evil. (By the way, if Ohio GOP voters wouldn’t come out and support Mike DeWine against Sherrod Brown little more than a year ago, what made John McCain think it was a wise move to tap DeWine to help him bring Ohio GOP voters out this go 'round?)

These are not pleasant choices, friends. I feel as if I'm being asked to choose whether to be shot by a .40 or a .45. (Hint: I don't want to be shot by either one). And yet these are the choices we face.

When I choose to write about a given subject, I have thought the issue through and attained what I believe to be the correct answer. Normally, I will then write about it so that others might consider my reasoning and perhaps come to the same conclusion.

This time, I'd like to try something a bit differently. Before I share my decision, I'd like to hear from those of you who, like me, will be voting in a Republican primary:

  • Will you chose Option #1 or Option #2?
  • If Option #1, for whom will you throw-away your vote to? Why?
  • If Option #2, which will you vote for, hoping for less anti-gun evil? Why?

    Send your answers to [email protected].

    My own decision, along with samples of what I expect to be a great deal of colorful feedback, will appear in a future column, before the March 4 primary in Ohio.

    Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman and Northwest Ohio Chair.

    Author's note: Clearly the events of the day have rendered a few of the specifics of this commentary moot, but have enhanced the overall point - the storm clouds have opened up on gun owners.

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