By Glen Johnson
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Officials in the four states where Mitt Romney has lived say the Republican presidential contender, who calls himself a lifelong hunter, never took out a license.
Romney says that is because he seldom has hunted where he needed one.
Questions about his hunting activities trailed Romney last week after he remarked at a campaign stop that he has been a hunter nearly all his life. The next day, his campaign said Romney had gone hunting just twice -- once as a teenager in Idaho and last year with GOP donors in Georgia.
That was wrong, Romney said a day later. He said he had hunted rabbits and other small animals for many years, mainly in Utah. Hunting certain small game there does not require a license.
"The report that I only hunted twice is incorrect," Romney said in a statement issued Friday. "I've hunted small game numerous times, as a young man and as an adult. I'm by no means a big-game hunter. I'm more Jed Clampett than Teddy Roosevelt," he said, referring to the "Beverly Hillbillies" character.
Romney has been criticized for changing positions on issues such as abortion and gay rights during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Although he once supported strict gun-control measures, he has spoken in favor of gun-ownership rights while on the campaign trail and joined the National Rifle Association as a "lifetime" member last year.
His staff refused Friday to provide details about his hunting history. He does not own a firearm, though he said earlier this year that he does.
The former Massachusetts governor issued the statement Friday after the Associated Press asked wildlife officials in Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Utah for documentation verifying Romney had been a registered hunter.