Days after a rival branding him a traitor over his Second Amendment stance, Republican Hunter Hill trumpeted the National Rifle Association’s decision to give him an “A” rating.
The former state senator highlighted the NRA’s review on Tuesday as his GOP rivals in the race for governor over his comments about potentially raising the minimum age to purchase certain guns from 18 to 21.
Hill has since said he misspoken and that he supports an across-the-board standard minimum age of 18 to buy firearms. And he released an ad showing him slicing through a faraway target at a shooting range, declaring he “won’t give an inch” on gun rights.
His opponents see a potential opening to weaken Hill, who is competing in the May 22 vote for a spot in a likely runoff against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, the GOP front-runner. Executive Clay Tippins has launched the fiercest attack, airing an ad that compared Hill to Revolutionary War turncoat Benedict Arnold.
A wave of Hill allies and Republican leaders knocked Tippins, a former Navy SEAL, for accusing a fellow military veteran of treason. Among them is U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who called it a “desperate political attack.”
“Likening Hunter Hill for Governor - an honorable veteran who led soldiers on 3 combat tours overseas - to ‘Benedict Arnold’ (our nation’s first traitor) is just plain wrong,” Hice wrote of Hill, a U.S. Army Ranger, on Facebook.
Hill’s campaign hopes the NRA rating will mute questions about his gun rights record and dampen the group’s endorsement of Cagle earlier this month. The NRA backed the lieutenant governor after he followed through on a promise to “kill” a tax break for Delta after it cut marketing ties with the group.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp has also tried to diffuse the NRA’s impact in the race by announcing the support of former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, who is a member of the NRA’s national board and a former Libertarian presidential candidate.