COLUMBUS: Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a national sportsmen’s group Saturday that he and Mitt Romney would work to prevent any more restrictions on hunting and gun ownership.
Speaking to around 1,000 members of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance at a banquet Saturday night, Ryan again used President Barack Obama’s words from the 2008 campaign against him. Obama raised the ire of many gun owners then when he said that bitter U.S. voters “cling to guns or religion.”
“This Catholic deer hunter is guilty as charged, and I’m proud of that fact,” Ryan told the supportive crowd.
The Wisconsin congressman said he and Romney can better ensure there won’t be further encroachments on the right to bear arms and the rights of people to hunt on public lands.
“Gun owners understand individual rights better than anyone,” Ryan said, adding that some in the federal government will keep trying to restrict areas where people can hunt.
“Hunters are the best conservationists, fishermen are the best conservationists that we have in this country,” Ryan said. “They should be treated with respect, not disdain.”
Before Ryan’s speech, members of the sportsmen’s advocacy group and guests mingled among hundreds of items sold later in a silent auction — including pistols and shotguns, crossbows, fishing tackle and a framed painting of game birds.
Some of the attendees said Ryan told them what they wanted to hear.
Mike Frawley, a 52-year-old hunter from New Carlisle, said he supported Romney because of the issues he considers important: “our individual freedoms, 2nd Amendment rights, of course, hunting privileges, not taking away any of my firearms, whether they be semiautomatic, single shot, whatever. Keeping our religious freedoms and family values intact.”
“The morals and the scruples in this country have gone to hell in this last administration, and I don’t agree with it,” said Frawley, a tool maker who helps educate hunters in the state. “This country needs to get back on track.”
Ryan’s speech brought him back to Ohio after campaigning earlier this week in Lima, Cincinnati and the Dayton area. He spoke earlier in the day to supporters in another swing state, New Hampshire.
Romney and Obama also had multiple campaign stops in Ohio this week. First lady Michelle Obama plans to campaign in Ohio for the first day of early voting Tuesday. She’ll emphasize get-out-the-vote efforts in a rally at Cincinnati’s downtown convention center. The president will then campaign Thursday in Columbus and Friday in Cleveland, following the first debate between the candidates Wednesday night at the University of Denver.
A CBS/New York Times poll released this week by Quinnipiac University showed Obama with a lead over Romney in Ohio, 53 percent to 43 percent.