From Jim Geraghty over at NRO. I know from regularly reading Jim's blog he is tight with the NRA's leadership. So when he says it was not a sure-thing, he is not just blowing smoke! --
NRA Endorses McCain, A Bigger Deal Than You Might Think
People may have expected this, but my understanding is that the NRA's endorsement of John McCain wasn't a guaranteed outcome, because of the NRA's past disagreements with McCain about campaign finance reform and his support for a gun show restriction bill he cosponsored with Joe Lieberman.
But beyond those two disagreements, McCain has a pretty solid pro-gun record, and Palin, of course, is famously a lifetime NRA member. Obama, of course, is basically the most anti-gun candidate to come down the street in many a year, and Biden's no improvement in the NRA's eyes.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre announced the endorsement Thursday. LaPierre and the chairman of the NRA's political action committee were making stops in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado and Nevada to talk about the move.
There's a pretty straightforward correlation between NRA endorsements and Republican presidential victories. Since 1980, they endorsed Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush the first time but not the second, and George W. Bush twice.