The NRA's annual convention is coming up. They invited possible/announced 2016 candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush.
Two people they didn't invite: Chris Christie and Rand Paul.
It is not surprising that the New Jersey moderate was not invited. But the lack of an invitation for Paul stands out.
The Daily Beast reports that Paul did request an invitation to the convention, but was denied:
However, a source with knowledge of Paul’s dealings with the NRA said the claim that he did not request an invitation to the convention was “not true.”
Further, the source said, “Is that really how invitations work?”
Paul has an A-rating from the NRA, but the objective grading of his gun-rights credentials has little to do with the politics of the pro-gun lobby, wherein his involvement with extremist groups tied to his father, former congressman and libertarian-icon Ron Paul, has not won him many friends.
“Sometimes the NRA doesn’t like it when people are bigger defenders of the issue than they are,” the source suggested. “They also don’t like it that he helps other, stronger groups like the Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights.”
The Pauls have long been associated with Gun Owners of America. On the top right of their website, they have a Ron Paul quote emblazoned: "The only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington."
The same is true for the National Association for Gun Rights. Rand Paul has long authored fundraising pleas for the organization.
The Wall Street Journal talked to the head of the NAGR, Dudley Brown, about the matter:
NAGR President Dudley Brown said Wednesday that Mr. Paul is the only current or likely 2016 candidate affiliated with his organization. Mr. Paul remains a NAGR member, Mr. Brown said, but added that it is unclear if NAGR will continue to use Mr. Paul’s name in fundraising appeals now that he has officially launched a presidential campaign.
The Kentucky senator, Mr. Brown said, is an excellent fundraiser for NAGR.
“It was no secret that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is more pro-gun than the NRA,” Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown slammed the NRA as a tool of the Washington insiders Mr. Paul has focused his campaign on opposing.
“I’ve been a gun lobbyist for 22 years and there’s never been a point at which we did not have tension,” he said. “We’re younger, we’re hungrier and we care less about the cocktail parties in Washington, D.C.”
Whose fault is it that GOA and the NAGR are more principled than the NRA?
The NRA has a long history of compromising on the Second Amendment. The NRA also has a history of supporting establishment candidates over conservatives in the primaries. It's well known that NRA has endorsed Democrats such as Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Ted Strickland.
Rand Paul has never attacked the NRA, and the NRA should get over itself. If it wasn't for the NRA's own decision making, there would be no need or demand for other, more principled gun rights groups.
The idea that the NRA would attack someone for being more principled in defense of the Second Amendment, is, as Rand Paul told Dave Weigel, "petty."
"The interesting thing is that there's probably no greater advocate for the Second Amendment in Congress than myself," Paul said today. "To not be invited, probably, will serve more to cast aspersions on their group than it would on me. Because my record's pretty clear. It probably looks a little bit petty for them not to invite a major candidate because I raised money for other Second Amendment groups."
UPDATE: Glen Caroline, Director of NRA-IRL Grassroots, claimed that Rand's absence was due to a lack of time on the schedule, which is quite obviously nonsense.