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Wisconsin GOP hopeful's campaign flyer falsely claims NRA endorsement

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tim Michels' campaign is reworking a flyer that falsely claims he won the National Rifle Association's endorsement, saying the declaration was a mistake.

Michels is locked in a three-way GOP primary with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and state Rep. Tim Ramthun. An NRA endorsement would be a coveted prize for any of them.

Michels' campaign sent out a flyer that landed in mailboxes Saturday that claimed the gun advocacy group had endorsed him. Scott Meyer, a Wisconsin lobbyist who has done work for the NRA, said the group hasn't endorsed anyone in the GOP primary and doesn't plan to do so.

"All this came out of the blue," Meyer said of the flyer. "Stunned is the best word to describe it. I've never seen this before."

Michels' campaign spokesman Chris Walker said in an email to The Associated Press that the claim was an "unintentional error" and has been immediately corrected with a new mailer that says Michels received an "AQ" grade on an NRA questionnaire about his stances on gun rights. Meyer said that grade indicates he answered the questions to the NRA's satisfaction.

"Our direct mail shouldn't have indicated that rating was an 'endorsement,' and subsequent communications will describe his 'AQ rating' from the NRA," Walker said in the email.

Asked in a follow-up email how the error was made, Walker said he wasn't part of "that process" and couldn't speak to it.

Kleefisch campaign manager Charles Nichols said Michels was caught lying and "now he's desperately trying to cover his tracks." Walker didn't immediately respond to another email seeking reaction to Nichols' comment.

A message left with Ramthun's campaign wasn't immediately returned.

The Republican primary is Aug. 9. The winner will go on to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the Nov. 8 general election.

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