The National Rifle Association says the only reason Sen. Rand Paul didnt get an invitation to its annual convention in Nashville this weekend was its inability to accommodate all the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls.
But Republican insiders know that Paul is persona non grata with the countrys largest Second Amendment advocacy group because of his affiliation with another, more militant gun rights organization, its brash executive director, and his vast direct-mail network focused on hard-core conservative issues.
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Nine Republican presidential contenders are set to address the NRAs annual convention, which is seen as a signature event for the GOPs base.
While Paul didnt make the cut, the NRA is not writing him off for good. He maintains an A rating with the group, which acknowledges Paul is good on Second Amendment issues. According to the NRA, he might have been offered a speaking slot, too, had he reached out. The explanation from Pauls camp is that hes busy with events on the trail following the official launch of his campaign on Tuesday in Kentucky.
But make no mistake: the NRAs snub of Paul is but the latest flashpoint in a long power struggle between the group and its rival, the National Association for Gun Rights.
Its also a reminder of the candidates deep anti-establishment roots, which some supporters fear could harm his presidential campaign, especially when they are tied to entities that could compromise the message of inclusion that Paul is shaping.
Dudley Brown, a pugnacious Coloradan, started the NAGR 15 years ago as a national companion organization to Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. He brands both organizations as the no compromises gun lobby, a less-than-subtle knock on the NRA for being too Washington-focused and less absolutist on Second Amendment issues.
The disdain is mutual the NRA once dismissed Brown as the Al Sharpton of the gun movement.
But Browns organizations are about far more than gun rights. Theyre closely connected to libertarian direct mail operations rooted in the National Right to Work movement and aimed at advancing a number of conservative causes, including sharp opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights.
Originally posted here:
The truth about the NRA's snub of Rand Paul