Red meat at a blue affair 

Support for Barack Obama was as grassroots as it gets on Hallmark Lane Monday evening. Venison chili, Big Sky beer and a cake that read “Happy Birthday Theodore Roosevelt: 150” highlighted the event.

Obama’s track record on gun control has caused a recent stir in the campaign that could swing voters to John McCain. In fact, according to federal data, gun and ammunition sales have risen 10 percent in the last year, a spike attributed in part to fears of Obama winning the election and scaling back gun rights laws.

But no one showed concern over the issue at the event organized by Sportsmen for Obama, a Montana group of hunters and anglers. Instead, the group celebrated the legacy of President Roosevelt. Jim Posewitz, a retired biologist and the night’s guest speaker, claimed Obama would uphold Roosevelt’s 100-year-old tradition of land and wildlife conservation. Posewitz calculated that Roosevelt set aside for conservation more than 84,000 acres a day during his presidency.

“We have deer in our suburbs, we have bear in our orchards and we have goose shit on every golf shoe,” says Posewitz of our current conditions. “That wasn’t an accident.”

Posewitz and others argue that Obama doesn’t threaten hunters and their guns. Steve Doherty, chairman of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and a former state legislator, says Republicans have pulled out the “gun card” to scare Montanans away from Obama.

“Obama is not going to take away our guns,” Doherty says.

The Montana Shooting Sports Association, meanwhile, issued Obama an “F” grade on gun rights and claims, for example, that he will limit a person’s ability to buy a gun from a neighbor without creating an electronic federal record of the deal.

Undeterred, the Sportsmen for Obama planned three similar dinners across the state this week in an effort to “build momentum for the election,” says Monday’s host Tom France. They plan to support Obama door-to-door until the election.

“Getting together, eating some wild game, drinking some microbrew beer,” Doherty says. “That gives you the kick in the butt to go knock on doors.”
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