At NRA, McCain puts Romney in crosshairs

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: GOP lawmaker takes unannounced trip to Syria | Taliban leader pens New York Times op-ed on peace talks | Cheney blasts paper for publishing op-ed GOP lawmaker makes unannounced trip to northeastern Syria Meghan McCain after Gaetz says Trump should pardon Roger Stone: 'Oh come on' MORE (R-Ariz.) used his appearance before the National Rifle Association (NRA) Friday to take aim at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

McCain said it is not enough to “show your bona fides by hunting ducks or varmints or quail…” The remark is an attack on fellow White House hopeful Romney, who had called himself a lifelong hunter only to reveal that his experience is limited to a couple hunting trips and shooting at “small varmints.”

The Arizona senator touted his own gun record in an effort to win over the powerful NRA.

“For more than two decades, I’ve opposed the efforts of the anti-gun crowd to ban guns, ban ammunition, ban magazines, and paint gun owners as some kind of fringe group, dangerous in ‘modern’ America,” McCain said. “Some even call you ‘extremists.’ My friends, gun owners are not extremists, you are the core of modern America.”

However, the senator also addressed the issues on which he has not seen eye-to-eye with one of the GOP’s most important constituencies.

“We had differences over my efforts to standardize the sales procedures at gun shows and to clean up our campaign finance system,” McCain said. “I understand and respect your position.”

He added that “these minor differences pale in comparison to our shared vision of a Second Amendment protected from political vagaries.”

The senator blasted the position of Democrats on the issue, saying that if one of them is elected president, “they will go after the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”