Former President Bill Clinton warned a private gathering of Democratic donors Saturday that Democrats need to stop the condescension toward rural gun owners, and supporting President Barack Obama's gun control efforts could lead to their defeat in the next election.
"Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them," Clinton said, according to Politico.
The speech was a joint meeting of the Obama National Finance Committee and a group of business leaders. Though no press were invited to the private event, Politico obtained a transferable ticket by an invited member of the committee.
Rural gun owners, Clinton remarked, "live in a world very different from the world lived in by" those proposing gun control measures. "I know because I come from this world," added Clinton, who grew up in Arkansas and was governor of that state before becoming president.
Later in his speech, though, Clinton himself made a statement that sounded condescending toward those who live in more rural areas.
"A lot of these people … all they've got is their hunting and their fishing. ... Or they're living in a place where they don't have much police presence. Or they've been listening to this stuff for so long that they believe it all," Clinton said.
An assault weapons ban was passed during Clinton's first term as president. That law contributed to Democrats losing the House and Senate in the 1994 midterm elections, Clinton reminded the Democratic donors.
One of the mistakes he made, Clinton recalled, was not speaking to the Democratic House members who became vulnerable to defeat because of that law. That decision led to "many sleepless night in the many years since," Clinton said.
Gun control measures have been renewed since last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The state of New York recently passed some of the nation's strictest gun control laws under Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Plus, Obama last week announced a set of executive orders and proposed legislation as part of an effort to reduce gun violence. His proposals included renewing the assault weapons ban that Clinton said he regretted.
Clinton closed his remarks by warning Democrats that they could lose their next election if they go along with Obama's gun control efforts.
"The only brave people are the people who are going to lose their jobs if they vote with you," Clinton warned.