WASHINGTON (CNN) - The National Rifle Association endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race on Monday - an about-face for the gun rights group, which backed Democrat Creigh Deeds over McDonnell when the two men last faced off in a statewide race four years ago.
Deeds, who had interviewed for the NRA endorsement along with McDonnell, quickly countered by announcing that he had earned the backing of the Virginia Firefighters Association, which represents roughly 6,500 paramedics and firefighters throughout the commonwealth.
But the NRA endorsement is likely the headline-grabber of the day, due to the state's evolving relationship with firearms and the NRA's change-of-heart about the candidate it once supported.
Deeds, a state Senator from rural Bath County and a longtime supporter of gun rights, won the NRA's backing in 2005 when the two men were running for Attorney General. McDonnell won that race by just 323 votes, the narrowest margin of victory ever in a Virginia statewide race.
Asked what had changed in the four years since his group endorsed Deeds, the NRA's chief lobbyist Chris Cox said Deeds is a different candidate than he was in 2005. He pointed to Deeds' decision to drop his opposition to so-called "gun show loophole," which permits vendors to sell firearms without background checks. Cox said Virginia gun owners were "shocked and disappointed" by the Deeds' transformation on the issue. Deeds has said he changed his mind on the loophole after the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.
McDonnell told reporters he was "delighted" to have the NRA seal of approval, which he touted as a sign that his campaign is attracting voters in the commonwealth's rural areas.
Cox praised McDonnell for being one of 31 state attorneys general in 2008 to sign an amicus brief supporting the right to bear arms in the landmark District vs. Heller case. He said the NRA's 120,000 paid members in Virginia will go to bat for McDonnell in November.
Losing the support of the NRA could be a blessing in disguise for Deeds, who has struggled to excite voters in liberal northern Virginia, the populous electoral battleground where voters are less in tune with the hunting and fishing traditions cherished in other parts of the commonwealth.
Still, his campaign promised that Deeds remains "a committed supporter of the Second Amendment" and pointed to his 'A' rating from the NRA.
"While it appears that his work on closing the gun show loophole following the Virginia Tech tragedy may have lost him this endorsement, Creigh looks forward to working with the NRA as governor to continue to protect our Second Amendment rights," Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold said in a statement.
Have Gun will Travel !
This is going to be a pretty simple November...and the first of many coming death knells for Democrats...unless the pull away from the precipice.
The republicans are soooo done.............There is nothing left but the fringe.......
Deeds is just another person who speaks out the side of his mouth just like obama./
They also endorsed McCain, the NRA are strong republican supporters and backers, so what else is new. They feel safer sleeping with their guns
No one ever said NRA people were smart...this proves it. Another self-serving single-issue group.
The NRA is the nation's leading lobby for organized crime. I'd be ashamed to be endorsed by the NRA.
Unfortunate that Republicans even exist!
The NRA and big buisness will always run the Republican party, the GOP could care less about the average Joe.
SO WHAT!!! The NRA is a flip-flopper because they feel they are going to endorse a WINNER!!! Come on now – 325 votes – I truly believe the race was rigged anyway.
So who cares about NRA – VIRGINIA WILL REMAIN BLUE!!!
Hmmmm... the NRA sells it's endorsement to the highest bidder!!!
That's OK... we didn't expect anything less from your organization.
Good god people. I'm sure this little organization called ACORN is flattered to get so much attention, but it really has no power. ACORN doesn't run, fund or do anything related to this administration. Anyone who brings them up in their posts are blind followers of Rush (can't get enough Oxycontin) Limpbaugh and Sean (certifiably crazy) Hannity.
And...the NRA can flip flop all they want. They are irrelevant. Did you honestly think any of their followers would ever vote for a Democrat, even if it is a Democrat the NRA supported in the past?!?! I grew up in Northern Wisconsin where school attendance is optional during deer hunting season. There are so many FORMER NRA members there. The NRA is a joke.
Typical liberals trying to downplay this incredibly huge and important endoresement. If MO (Deeds campaign manager), Deeds, Kaine, the DNC, the WH and the DGA (Democratic Governor's Association) didn't covet the NRA endorsement then Creigh would never have interviewed for the nod. The voters in NOVA know Bob is a sensible conservative. Go Bob Go!!!
I think you're going to see a nearly whole new Congress come election time....people are sick of this....wasting our tax payer dollars to force Joe to apologize again (by the way, one apology was suffice).
But then......to the guy that listed all the groups that support the Democrats. They are a bunch of sensible, honest hard working and intelligent people.
Now when you come to Town Hall, Tea Baggers, NRA and goodness I could name so darn many fringe outfits that support republicans it would take 10 years to post them all. THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE...THE RADICAL GUN CRAZY, MONEY CRAZY CONTROL FREAKS ALL HEAD TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.
Example number one rush and Fox news.
NRA flipped a long time ago.
They are part of the radical fringe that needs to get a grip.
Another phony – Gun packing so called Christian type.
Shootings at Virginia Tech were carried out by the NRA?
I heard it a different way.
Doesn't the NRA nearly ALWAYS support Republican candidates??
Liberalism is a disease. Any normal American would not want to turn away from the Declaration of Independence. Liberals should find another country, a socialist one, and move there. Then our Nation would prosper.
DEEDS is a crook.
He supports higher taxes, making existing illegals "legal", and wants more unions.
Disaster at its best
The NRA is as close to a fascist organization as we have in this country. I make it a practice to always vote for the person they don't endorse.
The NRA is controlled by republicans, and they will vote republican, without even looking at the facts. The NRA's members will do with they are told because most of them can't think on their own.
McDonnell is not extreme right wing; the left wingers only see Deeds as their hero. NO way Deeds should be elected; cannot afford his gas and other tax increases.