Politics & Government

Out of bounds! Democrats off base on McCain and gun shows

WASHINGTON — Throw the flag against: The Democratic National Committee.

What happened: In telephone polls of swing voters in 17 up-for-grab states last month, DNC pollsters asked voters if their views of John McCain changed once they found out that he'd switched his position on certain issues. Among them: closing what some see as a loophole on gun shows.

Why that's wrong: It's not true. McCain hasn't changed his position on closing the gun-show loophole. The loophole allows purchases of firearms at gun shows without instant criminal background checks. McCain's bill to close the loophole is one reason the National Rifle Association remains lukewarm to the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting. DNC Research Director Mike Gehrke defended the polling question, pointing to a statement McCain made after the Virginia Tech shooting last year. Then, McCain said he believed in "no gun control." But all DNC researchers had to do was go to McCain's campaign Web site, which trumpets his support of closing the loophole. The pollsters involved: Garin Hart Yang, the group headed by Geoff Garin, who recently took over Hillary Clinton's campaign; and Cornell Belcher, from Brilliant Corners, who's done work for Barack Obama.

Call: Unsportsmanlike conduct.

Penalty: 15 yards and loss of down.