Romney Calls Himself a Longtime Hunter

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By GLEN JOHNSON
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 5, 2007; 2:36 AM

BOSTON -- In boasting about his lifelong experience as a hunter, Mitt Romney may have shot himself in the foot.

The Republican presidential contender has told audiences on several occasions, most recently this week in gun-savvy _ and early voting _ New Hampshire, that he has been a longtime hunter. But it turns out he has been on only two hunting trips.

Critics said it was the latest example of a White House aspirant willing to say anything to reach the Oval Office.

"Whether he's pretending to be a hunter, misleading people about loaning his campaign millions of dollars or signing a no-new-tax pledge he once mocked to hide his tax-raising record, he'll say absolutely anything to distance himself from his real record," said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

The charge echoed with similarities to the criticism the Republican National Committee used to level against another Massachusetts politician running for president, Sen. John Kerry, who was his party's 2004 nominee.

In a question-and-answer session Tuesday in Keene, N.H., Romney spoke of his experience with hunting in a manner that suggested a close affiliation with the sport.

"I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life," he told a man sporting a National Rifle Association cap.

Yet the former Massachusetts governor's hunting experience came during two trips at the bookends of his 60 years: as a 15-year-old, when he hunted rabbits with his cousins on a ranch in Idaho, and last year, when he shot quail on a fenced game preserve in Georgia.

The 2006 trip was an outing with major donors to the Republican Governors Association, which Romney headed at the time.

An aide said Wednesday that Romney was not trying to mislead anyone, although he confirmed Romney had been hunting only on those occasions in his life.

"Governor Romney's support for the Second Amendment doesn't come from the fact he knows how to handle a firearm; it comes from his appreciation of the Constitution and the rights enshrined in it, including the right to keep and bear arms," campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said.

He went on to cite the pro-gun measures Romney signed into law while serving as governor from 2003 to this past January.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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