HELENA – The National Rifle Association endorsed U.S. Sen. Max Baucus on Friday in his re-election bid, awarding the Montana Democrat an “A+” rating.
The group said Baucus has consistently stood up for gun rights, even if doing so contradicted his Democratic colleagues.
“Senator Baucus is a true champion of our Second Amendment freedom and hunting heritage,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA political action committee.
Cox, who appeared with Baucus at an event in Helena, cited the senator’s votes in favor of gun shows, self-defense issues and preventing lawsuits against gunmakers for gun crime. He also cited Baucus’s opposition to the Washington, D.C., gun ban.
Baucus faces little opposition in his re-election bid.
Republican challenger Bob Kelleher, a perennial candidate who previously ran as both a Democrat and a Green Party candidate, has raised little money and is not being embraced by the state GOP. Kelleher has, in the past, voiced support for gun control.
Baucus said Friday that he was proud of the NRA endorsement.
“The Second Amendment is the bedrock, the foundation, of our country,” Baucus said.
Two months ago, Cox and another Montana Democrat, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, tangled over the governor’s backing of Sen. Barack Obama.
Cox said he understands Democrats like Baucus and Schweitzer will endorse Obama for president. But he said Schweitzer went too far by implying that Obama is no different on the gun issue than Republican Sen. John McCain and by saying that Obama won’t take away guns.
Shortly after the NRA endorsement of Baucus, the Obama campaign in Montana released a statement saying Baucus knows “gun owners have nothing to fear from Barack Obama.”
When asked whether the senator agreed with the statement, the senator’s spokesman Barrett Kaiser would only say: “Max supports the Second Amendment. Max has endorsed Senator Obama.”
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