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CNN Today

Clinton Fires Another Verbal Barrage at NRA

Aired March 13, 2000 - 2:14 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: After a sharp exchange over the weekend, President Clinton has fired another verbal barrage at the National Rifle Association on the issue of gun control. Within the past hour, Mr. Clinton reacted to unusually blunt statements by the NRA's second in command.

And CNN's Major Garrett is with the president today in Cleveland, Ohio following closely the story.

Major, what's new?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the president came to Cleveland to talk about providing prescription drug benefits to those Americans on Medicare, but that message has been overshadowed by an increasingly bitter verbal battle with the National Riffle Association over gun control, a verbal battle intensified after the death of Kayla Rolland in Michigan, the 6-year-old who was shot and killed at her elementary school by another 6-year-old.

Mr. Clinton used that shooting to call for new gun control. And last night, the National Rifle Association aired a new commercial. And it was narrated by the NRA president, Charlton Heston.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, NRA COMMERCIAL)

CHARLTON HESTON, NRA PRESIDENT: When a 6-year-old in a crack house finds a stolen gun and shoots a schoolmate, the president doesn't demand gun-theft prosecution or busting drug dealers, he demands safety locks.

Don't get me wrong, nobody supports safety locks more than the NRA, but his solution is to give crack house drug dealers safety locks?

Mr. Clinton, when what you say is wrong, that's a mistake. When you know it's wrong, that's a lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: President Clinton will be coming here to the Cleveland Public Library to talk about Medicare drug benefits in a moment. But earlier, just a few moments ago, Lou, the president responded to that ad in a fund-raising speech to those here in Cleveland attending a fund-raiser for House Democrats. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The NRA says we ought to prosecute gun crimes more. I agree with that. We have. Therefore, holding adults accountable when they recklessly give kids access to guns. Good for them.

But they're not for anything that is a preventative measure that might require the slightest effort on the part of the people they propose to represent, even if making that effort lets everybody else live in a safer America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GARRETT: White House officials were very upset about the latest verbal barrage from the NRA and said the president, both here and in future stops this week, will continue to call upon Congress, which has not dealt with gun control legislation for the last eight months, to speed up the process and move to him a bill that he can sign.

Major Garrett, reporting live from Cleveland, CNN.

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