US gun lobby endorses Romney, criticises Obama
FISHERSVILLE, Virginia (AFP) - The National Rifle Association (NRA), the biggest gun rights lobby in the United States, announced on Thursday its endorsement of Republican Mitt Romney for president.
"I am proud to have their support for my candidacy, and when I am president, I will do all in my power to defend and protect the right of all law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms," Mr Romney said in a statement.
NRA Political Victory Fund chair Chris Cox said it was important to have "a friend of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage in the White House," referring to the part of the US Constitution which enshrines the right to bear arms.
"Today we live in an America... led by a president who mocks our values, belittles our faith, and is threatened by our freedom," said Mr Cox in Fishersville, Virginia, where Mr Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, a congressman and avid hunter, attended a rally.
"So on behalf of the four million men and women of the NRA, representing tens of millions of NRA supporters, it is my honor to announce the NRA's endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," Mr Cox said in a statement.
President Barack Obama incurred the wrath of conservatives and gun owners in April 2008 when, as a Democratic presidential candidate, he told donors in liberal California that amid economic decline, some people "get bitter (and) cling to guns or religion."
Gun control has not emerged as a campaign issue this year despite tragedies including the 2011 shooting of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at a political event in Arizona in which six people died, and the shooting at a Colorado theater during a screening of a Batman movie in July that left 12 people dead.
A survivor of the Colorado shooting made an advertisement this week calling for the candidates to finally address gun violence, as has New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but the issue has received scant attention on the campaign trail.