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Giuliani sports a bull’s-eye at NRA conference

Even before former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) arrived at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Celebration of American Values conference, someone started taking shots at his record on gun control.

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An unknown Second Amendment supporter littered the area reserved for the press with flyers that detailed Giuliani’s position on gun control as unfavorable at best. One flyer compared former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) to Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), saying Thompson “has a proven record of supporting the Second Amendment and America’s gunowners [sic].”

While the flyers contained little editorializing beyond that — they mostly displayed the candidates’ quotes from past interviews — one was entitled “What you won’t hear Giuliani say when he speaks to the NRA today …”

NRA officials said they had not produced the flyers, and a representative for the Gun Owners of America said he did not think someone from his organization was responsible. None of the flyers included the standard line stating who had paid for their production.

The flyers notwithstanding, Giuliani seemed to do well at the event, softening his position on gun control by talking about his belief in the need for “strict constructionist” judges and blaming criminals, not “law-abiding citizens.”

The former mayor seemed to sense that he was walking into a skeptical crowd (Giuliani was wiping sweat from his forehead when he asked the crowd to support his presidential bid), as he conceded from the beginning of his speech that “there are probably a few things we disagree on.”

But in an indirect swipe at Romney, he added: “One thing about me is that I will always tell you what I really believe.”

One NRA official said after the speech that he thought it took “a lot of guts” for Giuliani to come to the event in person, something Romney did not do.

Thompson seemed to be the biggest hit at the conference, even though he spoke for less than 10 minutes.

“My relationship with y’all can be summed up pretty simply: Check the record,” Thompson said. “That’s probably all I need to say.”

Thompson won big applause for his stated support of states’ rights and his love for the Declaration of Independence, which, he said, “reminds us our basic rights come from God, not government.”

Thompson was asked afterward if he thought gun shows should be regulated more, to which he said he thinks they are “a part of Americana.”

He added that “we’re winning” the battle when it comes to the interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The former senator’s brief remarks seemed to win over the crowd.

Patricia Stoneking, an “NRA-certified training counselor,” said after Giuliani’s speech she is leaning toward voting for Thompson.

“I think Fred’s going to be our guy,” Stoneking said. “Rudy’s got a lot going for him … but I also take into consideration the New York gun laws.”

Stoneking said she was “very disappointed” that Romney did not attend, opting instead to address the crowd by video.

Romney’s campaign said the ex-governor regretted that his travel schedule prevented him from attending.