Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama is getting flak over his statement about “bitter” Americans who “cling to guns or religion.” Roger Simon, columnist for Politico.com, say Obama could use the votes of people who cling to their guns and who may make up as many as half of all voters. Both times Bill Clinton ran for president, he made gun control a mainstream, public safety issue. Standing with police officers, Clinton told voters there was no need for “cop killer” bullets or assault weapons. He also told hunters that he was not interested in taking their guns away.
Clinton was able to cross the cultural divide, Simon says. Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 told gun owners exactly what Bill Clinton had told them, but many gun owners did not believe them. To some, Gore and Kerry were creatures of Hollywood money and Washington politics. They could not cross the divide. The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre blasted Obama on ABC this week, saying, “American gun owners have for years understood the elitist concept of special privileges for the few, the same few who look down their nose at the people who respect basic American traditions like flying the flag, going to church, owning a gun and believing in the Bill of Rights. Obama's statement is a crack in the door that gives all of us a peek as to how the 'special' people look at the rest of us. Americans can read that code.”