ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Nancy Flores Report: In an effort to sniff out "camouflage candidates," the National Rifle Association may break with tradition and make an endorsement before the presidential primaries get underway in early January.
"There are a lot of candidates who say that they are pro-gun and most of them are. There are some of them who say they are pro-gun but they are just doing so to try and get elected," said N.R.A. spokesman Andrew Arulandam. "Our concern with these candidates is that we need to make sure that our members know who these candidates are. You see a lot of this, especially in congressional races."
"We have coined a term for this," he added, "these are camouflage candidates."
The N.R.A.’s spokesman did not ascribe his description of "camouflage candidates" to Rudy Giuliani in particular. But the gun group’s serious consideration of endorsing before the primaries could pose a headache for the GOP’s national frontrunner.
As mayor of New York, Giuliani was an outspoken supporter of gun control and he likened the N.R.A. to extremists.
"I think it’s fair to say that his work earning the trust of gun owners is on-going," the N.R.A.’s spokesman said of Giuliani.
Word that the N.R.A. might endorse in the primaries comes one day after New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg challenged Giuliani’s assertion to the N.R.A. that a lawsuit he filed as mayor against gun manufacturers had undergone substantial change.
Bloomberg said Monday that the case had "not changed at all" since its inception, adding, "We believe that it’s a good case, and we hope to win it."
While speaking to an N.R.A. convention on Friday, Giuliani said the ongoing lawsuit "has taken several turns and several twists I don’t agree with."
Asked to explain the claim that the lawsuit has changed, Giuliani’s campaign refused to do so.
For now, Giuliani is hoping to appeal to gun owners by highlighting his crime-fighting record.
"As mayor, Rudy successfully worked to get guns out of the hands of criminals in order to transform a city out of control," said Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella. "As President, he will focus on the same thing by dealing with gun-related crime by prosecuting the criminals and enforcing the laws already on the books."
In the past, the N.R.A. has waited until the general election to make an endorsement. But this time an endorsement could come as early as this fall.
"Our standard operating procedure is that we do not issue any endorsements until after the nominations are made at the convention. That being said, everything is on a fast-track schedule this year," said Arulandam. "As far as ’08 is concerned , we may very well decide to make an endorsement before the primary season begins or very close to it."