NRA endorses McCain, snubs board member Barr

The NRA endorsed John McCain for President today, and Bob Barr has to be steamed.  Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate, has long-established ties to the NRA and currently serves as member of their board.  McCain has annoyed the NRA with past positions on gun-show rules and campaign finance rules which hurt their ability to campaign, but it seems all is forgiven … for now:

The National Rifle Association is endorsing Republican presidential nominee John McCain despite differences with the Arizona senator on gun-show rules and campaign finance restrictions. …

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund has spent more than $2.3 million opposing Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The chairman of the political action committee, Chris W. Cox, says its spending in the presidential race will grow to “eight figures” by Election Day. Besides ads, encouraging battleground-state gun owners to vote will be a key focus, he said.

The PAC was running an ad Thursday in USA Today accusing Obama of waffling on gun-rights issues and challenging his statements that he supports the right to bear arms. Obama has said he respects the Second Amendment but doesn’t think it precludes “some commonsense gun laws so that we don’t have kids being shot on the streets of cities like Chicago.”

The NRA PAC’s future spending will target Obama on gun issues and start publicizing the records of McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, LaPierre said. McCain’s selection of Palin was a plus, LaPierre said.

Palin’s selection probably made the difference between an endorsement and a snub.  Palin’s enthusiasm for hunting gives a fresh look for the NRA, and an even more fresh look to John McCain.  It’s the best ticket for the NRA in terms of optics in a very long time.

Just yesterday, the Barr campaign hoped they would win the endorsement:

In 2004, the NRA issued lifetime rankings of all members of Congress. Sen. McCain received a “C+”, indicating a mixed record on the Second Amendment.

Bob Barr has an “A+” lifetime rating from the NRA. Bob serves on the board of the NRA. His record on the Second Amendment is without question.

Given the fact that Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox have exposed John McCain as an anti-gun sympathizer, we here at Bob Barr 2008 fully expect that the NRA will announce their support for Bob Barr tomorrow and run ads against both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

I like Barr; I think he’s the most rational candidate the Libertarians have ever fielded for President, and he’s one of the most intelligent men in politics.  However, this post reminds me that the Libertarians frequently forget the Quixotic nature of their campaigns and take themselves far too seriously.  The NRA wants to play for legislative influence in the next administration, and the Barr campaign has about zero chance of winning the White House.  The NRA would only endorse the Libertarian candidate if it wanted to torpedo any chance it has of keeping the ear of people who will actually be working in government in 2009.

The NRA also realizes what a disaster a President Barack Obama would be for gun rights.  They want to offer realistic opposition to that outcome, not pointless gestures that will make it more likely.