The Campaign Spot

Philly Democrats Want Hillary, Obama To Take Positions That Are ‘Political Suicide’

Hillary and Obama are scheduled to debate on April 16 in Philadelphia.

Local Democrats are openly pledging to push the candidates to take a position that will doom many of their red state efforts and probably further endanger purple states.

Philadelphia’s Democratic leaders say they’ll press Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to back stricter gun laws, despite the risk of angering voters throughout the rest of Pennsylvania and possibly damaging the party’s nominee in the general election.
Gun violence in Philadelphia — 331 homicides from gunfire in 2007 — thrust firearms laws to the top of the agenda for city voters, and they don’t care about the potential political pitfalls for the presidential candidates, said Carol Campbell, a Democratic ward leader in the city.
Democratic ward leader Ralph Wynder, who is supporting Mr. Obama, said the candidates should address the pressing issues, but conceded that backing Philadelphia’s push for tougher gun laws would be “political suicide.”
“You are probably going to be damaged goods in the state,” Mr. Wynder said.

So these candidates would probably prefer to avoid the issue, right? They’re probably hoping it won’t come up in that debate. Except

When Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton square off in an April 16 debate in Philadelphia, they may be forced to spend time discussing an issue neither has talked much about in this campaign: gun control. April 16 will mark one year since the murder of 32 students at Virginia Tech, the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history.

It’s gonna come up.
As the National Journal notes, “Pennsylvania, which is home to 300,000 members of the National Rifle Association — the highest per capita NRA membership in the country, according to Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. A 2002 Quinnipiac University poll found that 42 percent of Pennsylvania households have guns, including 54 percent of union households, a key Democratic constituency.”