Tiny Searsboro, Iowa, was a political hotbed Saturday. Five presidential campaigns, three official and two unofficial, descended on the town of 155 residents for a gun rights rally, trying to appeal to the overwhelmingly conservative attendees. The event, sponsored by the Iowa Firearms Coalition and NRA, swelled the town’s population to well over 500, despite inclement weather.
Tim Pawlenty was the only presidential candidate to speak at the event. Donning an NRA cap, Pawlenty’s brief speech was well received by the crowd. Afterwards, TheIowaRepublican.com caught up with the former Minnesota Governor for a brief interview.
“The United States Constitution guarantees the right of people to keep and bear arms and I believe in the Constitution,” Pawlenty said. “I believe in freedom and I want to make the people in Iowa and all across this country know when I’m President, I’ll stand with the 2nd Amendment and the peoples’ rights to own guns.” (watch the video below)
Pawlenty also separated himself from other candidates who believe states have the right to place restrictions on gun ownership. “The 2nd Amendment is the overarching principle, the overarching law, so I don’t like the idea of states or local units of government trying to leap over the Constitution. I strongly oppose that,” he told TheIowaRepublican.com.
The campaigns for Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul all had booths set up for the event. So did Iowans for Perry and Organize 4 Palin. The cost was $100. Both the Perry and Palin booths saw a fair amount of traffic during the time TheIowaRepublican.com was there. Perry’s booth had at least five people talking to attendees and signing people in. They estimated that around 100 signatures had been secured by 12:30 pm.
Congressman Steve King and a handful of state senators and representatives also spoke to the crowd. King travelled well outside his district to attend the rally. “This is a great event,” King told us. “Any time that we are exercising our 2nd Amendment rights, we are strengthening the 2nd Amendment and the Constitution. Any Constitutional right that we have that we don’t exercise gets redefined and disappears and dissipates over time.” (watch the video below)
King’s endorsement is among the most coveted in the 2012 race. He was glad the presidential campaigns were paying attention to the event. “It’s important to be here,” King said. “I go to a lot of 2nd Amendment events because I was to help and strengthen our right to keep and bear arms so that day never comes that we have to fear tyrants in the United States of America.”
Along with political speeches, the event included a Permit to Carry class, firing ranges, and displays from weapons manufacturers. This was the Iowa Firearms Coalition’s 2nd annual rally.
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