WASHINGTON — Two days before President Barack Obama's first trip outside Washington to promote his gun-control proposals, the White House tried to settle a brewing mystery when it released a photo to back his claim to be a skeet shooter.
Obama had set inquiring minds spinning when, in an interview with The New Republic magazine, he answered yes when asked if he had ever fired a gun. The admission came as a surprise to many.
Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time, Obama said in the interview released last weekend, referring to the official presidential retreat in rural Maryland, which he last visited in October while campaigning for re-election. Asked whether the entire family participates, the president said: Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there.
Few could recall Obama ever talking about firing a gun or going skeet shooting all the time.
The official White House photo released Saturday is dated Aug. 4, 2012. The caption says Obama is shooting clay targets on the range at Camp David. Obama is seen holding a gun against his left shoulder, his left index finger on the trigger and smoke coming from the barrel. He is wearing jeans, a dark blue, short-sleeved polo shirt, sunglasses and headphones.
Asked at Monday's press briefing how frequently Obama shoots skeet and whether photos of the outings existed, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he didn't know how often. Pictures might exist, he said, but he hadn't seen any.
Why haven't we heard about it before? Carney was asked.
Because when he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax, not to produce photographs, Carney said.
Obama is accompanied almost everywhere by at least one White House photographer.
Carney did not immediately respond Saturday when asked to comment on the decision to release the photo. But it could be part of an effort to portray Obama as sympathetic to gun owners and opponents of his gun-control measures who argue the proposals would infringe on an individual's Second Amendment right to bear arms.