- Child killed, 4 injured in Idaho elementary school bus crash
- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
Sen. Kelly Ayotte fights back over guns; target of out-of-state ad buy says critics wrong
CONCORD, N.H. — The national debate over gun control has spilled over into New Hampshire where Sen. Kelly Ayotte is defending her vote against stricter gun laws and deriding the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group that is attacking her as carpetbaggers who don’t understand her state’s voters.
At stake is whether gun control groups can sway the half-dozen or so lawmakers needed to push expanded background checks for gun purchases through the Senate — and Mrs. Ayotte’s re-election race in 2016 is shaping up as a key test.
The proxy war broke out here weeks ago when MAIG, an advocacy group with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as co-chairman, started targeting Mrs. Ayotte in a six-figure ad buy that ran in the Manchester, N.H., and Boston media markets. The group ramped up the pressure over the weekend, releasing another television spot saying Mrs. Ayotte didn’t step up when her vote was needed.
“Ayotte’s vote helped defeat a modest measure to prevent the seriously mentally ill from purchasing firearms,” the narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Now Ayotte says she is for strengthening background checks, but when it counted she was a key vote to kill it and that makes New Hampshire less safe.”
But Mrs. Ayotte and her allies, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida’s political action committee, have returned fire, saying that MAIG is misleading voters and that the junior New Hampshire senator has voted to beef up the current National Instant Criminal Background Check System that federally licensed dealers must use.
“They are running ads basically saying that I voted against background checks, which is false,” Mrs. Ayotte said last week. “I supported legislation that would have improved out background check system. These are clearly out-of-state interests coming into New Hampshire spending a lot of money, and I think at the end of the day people will sort through these types of false attacks, they will examine the issue, and I trust the people of New Hampshire to make their own judgments.”
The back-and-forth comes after the Senate shot down a bipartisan proposal last month that would have expanded gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows.
Mrs. Ayotte joined 40 of her fellow Republicans and five Democrats in opposing the plan, which was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s response to last year’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 people dead.
Mrs. Ayotte, meanwhile, backed another proposal, which also failed in the Senate, that made changes to the background check system, provided resources to help address mental health and school safety, and addressed gun trafficking and straw purchasing.
Since the vote, some polls have suggested that Mrs. Ayotte’s unfavorable ratings have ticked up, and found that she holds the lowest approval rating of any statewide official.
Andrew E. Smith, political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said that Democrats — at the national and state level — are hoping to put a dent in Mrs. Ayotte’s image ahead of her 2016 re-election campaign “because she is an attractive conservative women from New England.”
“The idea is kneecap her right now,” Mr. Smith said, adding that Democrats are basically saying, “We are not going to do too much damage, but you won’t be able to walk very well.”
James M. Demers, a longtime Democrat consultant and New Hampshire co-chairman of President Obama’s presidential campaign, said Tuesday that some voters are aware of Mrs. Ayotte’s opposition to expanded background checks, thanks to the MAIG ads.
“I saw one this morning, and I do think it is having an effect,” Mr. Demers said. “A lot of people, particularly the independent voters here, are asking why she voted the way she did. It seems like it is having a big effect.”
Michael Biundo, the campaign manager for Republican Rick Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign, said it is politically savvy for Democrats to go after Mrs. Ayotte because it diverts attention from the Democrats up for re-election in 2014 — a list that includes Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. But, he said, he doesn’t think the attack sticks.
Tom Rath, a New Hampshire GOP strategist and former adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said Mrs. Ayotte remains popular with the state’s law enforcement officials and that the senator has plenty of time to respond before she has to worry about re-election.
“Typically a candidate gets in trouble when they do something contrary to what they said they are going to do, and the vote Sen. Ayotte cast is very consistent with what her position has been,” Mr. Rath said. “So, I don’t think anything changes much in the way of poll numbers, certainly not any change that has any impact on 2016.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- New battlefront emerges in war between GOP, tea party
- Democratic infighting erupts over 'we can have it all' fantasy on entitlements
- Dick Cheney: Family feud over gay marriage has been 'dealt with'
- Conservatives turn heat on red-state Democrats over judges
- Marco Rubio skeptical of interim nuclear agreement with Iran, says sanctions bill in the works
Latest Blog Entries
- Rep. Jeff Duncan knocks Sen. Harry Reid for handing staff Obamacare exemptions
- Rep. Randy Neugebauer: GOP seeks food stamp savings in farm bill
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: Government employee pensions should not be touched in budget talks
- GOP Rep. Mike Rogers warns of security gaps in Obamacare website
- U.S. Chamber wades in Idaho GOP primary, backs Rep. Michael Simpson
Why such hatred toward America's freedom of religion?
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
- Blast of winter weather heads to D.C. area
- GOP launches candidate training: How to talk to women
- Russian diplomats busted bilking $1.5 million from Medicaid
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
White House pets gone wild!