Clinton recalls hunting with her father as a youth

KENOSHA, Wisconsin Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:11pm EST

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KENOSHA, Wisconsin (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton revealed something about herself on Saturday that she acknowledged might surprise many people: she knows how to hunt.

Campaigning ahead of Tuesday's Democratic nominating vote in Wisconsin, a state with a strong tradition of hunting and where many voters strongly support gun ownership rights, Clinton said she firmly backed the right to bear arms.

"You know, you may not believe it but I've actually gone hunting," Clinton, 60, said at a question-and-answer session with voters at a crammed bratwurst restaurant in Kenosha.

"My father taught me to shoot 100 years ago," she said jokingly.

The topic came up when one voter asked Clinton what she would do to prevent incidents such as the shooting spree at Northern Illinois University on Thursday in which a man entered a lecture hall and killed five students and himself.

Officials later said the man had shown erratic behavior after he stopped taking medication.

Clinton, a New York senator and former first lady, said steps should be taken to make sure those with criminal backgrounds or a history of mental illness did not get access to guns, though she did not offer specifics. But Clinton, who is hoping to put a stop to a streak of wins by rival Barack Obama, she said she would not take any steps that would infringe on the rights of "lawful gun owners."

"I think we've got to do two things simultaneously. We should be smart enough to figure this out -- protect the rights of lawful gun owners, whether it's hunting, collecting, target shooting, whatever the purpose is, it's a lawful right period," Clinton said. "But we've got to keep it out of the hands of criminals and terrorists and people who are mentally ill."

Later, a reporter who had followed her career for 2 1/2 years and was not aware of her hunting experience pressed Clinton on whether she had ever shot anything.

"Yes, Mike, I have," she told the reporter, Mike McAuliff of the New York Daily News. Clinton said she had shot a duck as well as "a lot of tin cans and a lot of targets and some skeet."

(Editing by Stuart Grudgings)

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