Bill Clinton told a group of Democratic donors Saturday not to look “down their nose” at opponents of gun control. “A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things,” Clinton said. “I know because I come from this world.”
In his 40-minute address, Clinton spent much time on the issue of gun control, POLITICO reports. Last week, President Obama outlined a list of 23 executive actions he plans to take to reduce violence as well made clear he plans to push Congress to implement a new assault weapons ban.
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Clinton warned against simply dismissing opponents of new gun legislation. He said that while polls show renewed support for gun control among most Americans, the issue is how strongly people feel about it. He describe Al Gore’s 2000 campaign against George W. Bush and noted that Gore lost the state of Colorado because he backed increased gun legislation. He said voters in the state singularly concerned with guns rejected Gore outright because of this action.
He also said as Arkansas governor, he once threatened to veto a bill that would have prevented Little Rock from instituting an assault weapons ban. He was then confronted by a lobbyist for the NRA, who said the group would cause problems for his coming presidential campaign.
“Right there in the lobby,” Clinton said. “They thought they could talk to governors that way.”
“I knew I was getting older when I didn’t hit him,” he added. He said he told the lobbyist, “If that’s the way you feel, you get your gun, I’ll get my gun and I’ll see you in Texas.”
Guns, Clinton said, are a big part of the culture in rural states. “A lot of these people … all they’ve got is their hunting and their fishing,” he told the donors. “Or they’re living in a place where they don’t have much police presence. Or they’ve been listening to this stuff for so long that they believe it all.”
“Do not be self-congratulatory about how brave” you are being for gun control, he warned. “The only brave people are the people who are going to lose their jobs if they vote with you.”
Clinton also addressed the fact that the GOP has been on a decline since 1992 and said Democrats have a chance to really “democratize America.” It can be done, he said, on immigration reform, economic issues and the health care bill.
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