Furious that Bob Dole has backed off his opposition to a ban on assault weapons, officials of the National Rifle Association threatened Wednesday to withhold the organization’s endorsement of his presidential campaign.
Tanya Metaksa, the group’s chief Washington lobbyist, said she had received hundreds, probably thousands, of telephone calls, letter and faxes from members who felt betrayed by Dole’s remarks, particularly his warning that, as president, he might veto a repeal of the assault-weapons ban enacted two years ago.
“What he’s done is turned off NRA members from being active campaign workers in his election,” Metaksa said in an interview. While Metaksa said the group’s board would not vote on an endorsement until September, she made clear it was highly unlikely Dole would get an endorsement.
“Members will be active in state and local legislative elections,” she said, “but I doubt they’ll be active in the presidential election. President Clinton is the most anti-gun president to ever occupy the White House. But our members are very disappointed and disillusioned with last week’s statements of Sen. Dole.”