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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Gun-rights groups perceive President Barack Obama as a threat to unfettered access to firearms. They once had qualms about Mitt Romney, too.
But times and circumstances have changed for Romney, the GOP presidential nominee now in tune with the National Rifle Association and similar organizations, whose members are motivated voters.
In the tight White House race, every bit of support helps, especially in the most closely contested states and particularly from groups that claim millions of members nationwide.
Romney's prior embrace of weapon-control proposals had put him crossways with the NRA and others. These days, Romney is on their good side by opposing renewal of a federal ban on semiautomatic weapons, additional regulations on gun shows and suggested federal gun registration requirements.
Romney and his allies underscore his hands-off stance when it comes to guns, and say he would move to open more public land to hunting. They also promote the bona fides of running mate Paul Ryan, who has a permit for just about every season in Wisconsin, his home state.
The Obama campaign emphasizes steps by his administration to promote habitat conservation, set aside land and preserve access to land used for recreation.
Supporters point to Obama's "American Great Outdoors Initiative" to coordinate conservation and natural resource efforts in all 50 states, whether it's restoring wetlands in Iowa's duck-rich Prairie Pothole Region or filtering phosphorous harmful to fish and fowl in Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio.
For Obama, minimizing Romney's apparent advantage among voters who place a premium on outdoors issues is the name of the game.
Obama's campaign highlights a law he signed in his first year as president that allows people with weapons permits to bring loaded guns into national parks and wildlife refuges. The change drew rebukes from gun-control advocates.
Other political news:
- A Pennsylvania woman is suing Democratic state Rep. Jake Wheatley. The woman says Wheatley only paid half of a $200 prize he promised the winner of a cake-baking contest, the Associated Press reports.
- Police are still looking for a suspect after a shot was fired through the window of Pres. Barack Obama's Denver campaign office. The shooting happened Friday afternoon when people were in the office, but no one was injured. Police are reviewing security camera footage for leads, the Washington Post reports.
- A grassroots effort to save PBS funding dubbed the "Million Muppet March" is planned for Nov. 3 at the National Mall. Protesters are being encouraged to bring a puppet to the National Mall "for a morning of fun in the largest gathering of puppets to ever march on Washington in support of public broadcasting," according to the event's organizers.
- Comedian Stephen Colbert appeared Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" out of character, a break from tradition. Colbert, the host of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, plays a conservative pundit also named "Stephen Colbert" on the show. The comedian talked about his style of political satire — embodying the very thing he is critiquing — and his habit of playing political games to highlight absurdities in politics, such as the time he formed a super PAC.
- A new Politico/George Washington University poll of battleground states found that 51 percent of voters now view Romney favorably as a person, while 44 percent of voters view him unfavorably. Going into the first presidential debate, 47 percent of voters viewed Romney favorably and 47 percent viewed him unfavorably.
- The creator of the TV show "Friday Night Lights" has accused Mitt Romney of plagiarism for adopting the show's slogan, "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." The Romney campaign has used the slogan on its Facebook page and as a theme for stump speeches in the past, but the show's creator said the Romney campaign was misrepresenting the show. "Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series," Peter Berg, the writer-director of the show, wrote in a letter to Romney, according to The New York Times.