The last thing I expected to see on the front page of the New York Times today was a picture of president Obama, shouldering a rifle and firing it.
Yet it was he!
Two days before the president made his first trip outside Washington to promote gun-control proposals following the Newtown massacre, the White House released a photo backing Obama's claim to be a skeet shooter himself .
In an interview with The New Republic magazine, Obama had surprised many by answering “yes” when asked if he had ever fired a gun.
“Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” Obama said in the article.
Camp David is the official presidential away-from-it-all retreat in Maryland, which he last visited in October .
But few readers could recall Obama ever talking about firing a gun or going skeet shooting “all the time,” said the NYT.
Hence the official White House photo released on Saturday, dated Aug. 4, 2012. The caption says Obama is shooting clay targets on the range at Camp David.
Obama is outdoors amid grass and trees with a rifle cocked in his left shoulder, his left index finger on the trigger and SMOKE coming from the barrel.
White House press secretary Jay Carney had been asked during the week how frequently Obama shoots skeet and whether photos existed. Carney said he hadn’t seen any.
“Why haven’t we heard about it before?” Carney was asked.
“Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs,” Carney said.
Yesterday, however, there was the photo, taken by the ever-present White House photographer.
Why release it now? It could be part of an effort to portray Obama as sympathetic to gun owners and opponents of his gun-control measures , said the NYT.
In the New Republic interview , Obama said gun-control advocates should be better listeners in this latest debate over firearms. He also declared his deep respect for the tradition of hunting in the US, which dates back generations.
“And if you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles, and that became part of your family’s traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that.”
“So it’s trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes,” Obama said.