Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton implored attendees of a gun rights conference in Smithtown Sunday to vote for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in November or risk further attacks to the Second Amendment and their ability to bear arms.
In remarks to more than 700 people at the annual conference of the Sportsmen's Association for Firearms Education Inc., Bolton, ambassador for more than a year under former President George W. Bush, criticized the UN and President Barack Obama for pushing policies that serve as "an assault on our sovereignty."
"American citizens . . . we see no higher authority than the United States Constitution," said Bolton, an attorney, a frequent speaker on the Republican fundraising circuit and a foreign policy adviser to the Romney campaign. "That's not the view of Barack Obama . . . If you do anything other than voting for Romney, you're in effect, voting to re-elect Obama, and I know you don't want to do that."
Bolton's comments drew a standing ovation from the crowd, who also heard from several other speakers during the four-hour gathering of the Commack-based gun-rights group, which was founded in 1994.
John L. Cushman, association president, said the event was organized to raise money for the group's legal defense fund, but was unsure the group was successful in recouping the $5,000 it cost to throw the event at the Sheraton Long Island Hotel.
Heading a gun rights advocacy group in a state such as New York, he said, is challenging. "There's a lot of people from New York City who think the only people who want guns are criminals," he said. "It's absurd."
Several politicians attended the event, including Assemb. Philip Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue); state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley); Suffolk Legis. Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Senate candidate Wendy Long.
Patti Fratti, a retired office manager from Amityville, bid $550 to win a sterling silver Second Amendment pin -- one of just a few made, organizers said. "I just think this is an important cause," Fratti said. "I feel like I have something like an original John Hancock signature," she said of her pin.