Romney Courts Gun-Rights Group in Presidential Bid

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"It signals to me that he cares about gun owners and hunters," Dorsey said.

While some gun-control advocates might be turned off by Romney's association with the NRA, there's little likelihood such activists were going to vote for him anyway, leaving little political downside for Romney's appeals to NRA faithful, said Dave Robertson, a political science professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

"In these days of polarization, you want to make sure your partisans know that you're on their side and don't leave any doubt," Robertson said. He added: "In some ways, he's quite lucky this is occurring in April, where he can shore up the base at this point and he still has a number of months to reassure independent moderates that he has their interest at heart."

Retired state fisheries division director Steve Eder is one of those independents still trying to decide whether to support Obama or Romney. An avid outdoorsman, Eder owns a variety of guns but is not an NRA member and considers himself a moderate when it comes to gun-control issues.

"I don't see President Obama as being an outdoorsman, nor do I really see Mitt Romney as that type of person either," said Eder, 61, of Jefferson City.

To Eder, that doesn't really matter. The economy commands greater attention. In this election, gun-rights are "secondary to a lot of other issues," he said.

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