(WASHINGTON) — Mitt Romney will address the National Rifle Association‘s annual meeting later this week, a speech that comes at a crucial time for the candidate who is working to appeal to the conservative base of his party as he inches closer to clinching the Republican nomination.
Romney, who tells voters on the campaign trail that he believes “we have all the laws we need” in regard to gun control, revealed for the first time just over a month ago that he owns two shotguns. When asked about his stance on gun control during a town hall meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in February, Romney said, “I believe in the second amendment, I’ll protect the second amendment. I have guns myself.”
The admission came after years of varied remarks on his own hunting experience.
During a virtual debate with the Boston Globe in 2007, Romney was corrected when he claimed to own a gun that he later clarified actually belonged to one of his five sons.
“I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I’m a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms,” said Romney, to which the interviewer corrected him, “Ah, excuse me, but isn’t that son Josh’s gun?”
Romney responded, “Um, well, yes, but so what? He has several guns out at our vacation place in Utah, and I use them from time to time.”
Also in 2007, Romney explained during an interview exactly what kind of hunting he likes.
“I’m not a big game hunter. I’ve always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter all right, small varmints if you will,” he said.
And earlier this year, during a Fox News debate, Romney was asked whether he has hunted in the years since 2007, to which the candidate responded, “I’m not going to describe all of my great exploits. But I went moose hunting actually. Not moose hunting, I’m sorry, elk hunting with friends in Montana. I’ve been pheasant hunting.”
Romney’s speech to the NRA, scheduled for Friday, April 13, will not be his first. The candidate addressed the association in 2008 and 2009. Romney also sent a short video message to the annual meeting in 2011.
Former senator Rick Santorum and former speaker Newt Gingrich are also expected to attend the NRA meeting this week.
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