NRA chief: Obama 'bit off more than he could chew'

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Politics Digest,Gun Control

The head of the National Rifle Association mocked President Obama's Rose Garden "tantrum" after losing the gun control fight in the Senate, charging Thursday that Obama suffered the worst defeat of his presidency because "he bit off more than he could chew."

David Keene told Secrets that the president and his team misplayed their hand because they don't have a sense of the public's attitude toward gun control. "They just can't gauge the public reaction to what they do because they don't have any sense that the public has feelings different than they do," said Keene.

"He thought and his folks thought that Newtown changed everything. Newtown was a tragedy but that doesn't change people's basic values and feelings," added the NRA president. "What he learned is that he bit off a lot more than he can chew and that you can't just talk your way to a victory. You have to have something that makes some sense and he what he was proposing just didn't make much sense."

The loss devastated the president, who ranted about the NRA's power during his Rose Garden address after Wednesday's vote.

Keene, however, saw it differently. "It was the biggest legislative defeat he suffered but that does not justify the unseemly picture of a president of the United States throwing a public tantrum."

Keene said that many lawmakers who voted against the background check expansion felt that if it passed, gun control advocates would simply return to the issue to chip away more at the Second Amendment, so they decided to "just stop it now."

In a way, Keene signaled that to the sponsors of the Senate compromise, Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. Keene recalled that he took a day off last week to fish for trout on the Missouri River in Montana. "Unfortunately, I took my cellphone with me and my cellphone rings in the midst of my float and it's Joe Manchin, who's talking about how reasonable his idea is. And finally I said, 'Look, I'm in the middle of the Missouri River, I've got a trout on the line. I don't agree, you will have to make your own decisions, and I hung up. You have to keep your priorities straight."