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.
Let's face it you can't trust Democrats to do anything they say they will. Its a no-brainer to the NRA or anyone.
The NRA flip-flop proves their "endorsement" is meaningless. McDonnell has radical ideas and radical supporters.
They don't care about true Americans. The Virginia Tech shooting didn't give them a sense of responsibility. Its a shame.
You dum libs liked the NRA just fine when they backed your lapdog now they switched horses and suddenly you don't like them, too bad.
The time for trying to make new friends is over. The NRA has no choice but to endorse the only candidate who will actually protect the right to own and use guns.
Is the NRA endorsement anything to brag about.
We should all join the NRA, and when they the members what issues are important, we vote for gun control etc.
could have made headlines if it was the other way round....
No news here!
Hmmm, guns and republicans, no surprise there, it goes along with their hate and hypocrisy.
Good for the NRA!
A Republican govenor will be more appropriate for Virginia.
Good....I'm independent but think that we need more Republicans in office because it seems like as soon as a Democrat gets into power he/she immediately wants to increase taxes and spend more money. We need Democratic values (education, healthcare, environment) without the "tax and spend" antics.
The NRA has way too much political power in this country. Any politician who the NRA does NOT support would have my vote!
...do they still think Obama is going to take away their gun rights?
Crazies of a feather flock together...
It does not matter whom the NRA or Hollywood gives a endorsement. We always vote for the best LIAR which can be a DEM or GOP. Hopefully 2010 or 2012 there will be a new party. That works for US !!!
If the NRA ever supported Deeds I'm sure it was a temporary tactical ploy.
Who cares who the NRA picks – just a bunch of up tight anal types (Repubs) who throw bribe money around as corporate lobbyists.
So I guess McDonnell thinks Jesus would support a group that wants everyone to have and carry handguns where ever they went – into hospitals, schools, churches, bars, stadium events, civial court, etc.?!
The simpleton Repub followers actually "believe" this crap!
I would never vote for anyone who was indorsed by the NRA, or any other terrorist.
"Cool, but who does ACORN, the SEIU, the NEA, Code Pink, Planned Parenthood, the GLBT community, PETA, NOW, the ACLU, etc support? I'm betting the liberal! I take the NRA anyday . Thank you"
Wow. That's quite a list of people you don't like...
although, I can't say I'm too fond of PETA myself. YOU can have them...
The only people talking about taking our guns away are the NRA and the GOP. That is a fact.
The NRA, does anybody care who they endorse? Do these goofballs have any political power? Answer NO and NO.
Come on CNN, that isn't news. That happened YEARS ago. They were flipped out the moment they decided tin foil hats were part of their standard uniform.
Why is the United States spending so much resources hunting down terrorists abroad,... when the real terrorist are home grown and living in our own backyard. Traitors who want to seceede from the Union, NRA, insurance companies, Wall street crooks, oil executives, and bribed politicians.
So the NRA flip-flopped? LOL
I was worried that Deeds was going to get the NRA support. Now, I might be able to vote for him. But I'm worried about his mental capacity, if he was actually seeking an endorsement from a front for the rightwing underbelly of this nation. I am a gun owner, and the NRA in NO WAY represents me. The 2nd amendment was created to protect us FROM the very entities like the NRA.
Go Bob McDonnell! You've got my vote!
McDonnell will win with or w/o the NRA endorsement. It's the Obama endorsement that will sink Deeds.
This administartion has not even been in power for one year yet. Give them a chance. The campaign to get the conservatives back in power has started already. The NRA has a lot of Conservitive members who have money. If one of these members rally to stop funding the organizaion it probably will not exist anymore. So if they say endorse someone that's what will happen.