Likely 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is asking supporters of his Reclaim America PAC to support beleaguered Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) for voting down a bipartisan amendment extending background checks for gun purchases. Since joining 45 other Republicans in opposing the measure — which would have expanded screenings to guns purchased at gun shows and online — Ayotte has seen her approval ratings plumet and has come under withering criticism from constituents and families of gun violence victims at town halls across New Hampshire. Rubio also opposed the measure.
“Senator Ayotte stood tall in her defense of American gun owners, now it’s time for us to stand tall in defense of her,” Rubio wrote on his Facebook, linking readers to a “Stand With Kelly” petition on the Reclaim America PAC.
The petition claims that “Liberals just can’t get over the fact that their most recent attempt to restrict our SecondAmendment rights was defeated soundly by the American people” and portrays background checks as “big government.” Public opinion polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support additional gun screenings, including 91 percent of New Hampshire adults.
Rubio’s PAC says that advocates of gun safety will run “attack ads that distort the truth” and “are now pouring special interest money into New Hampshire to attack Senator Ayotte for supporting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
On Wednesday, the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced that it will spend $250,000 to run television commercials supporting Ayotte’s vote. Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group founded by Gabby Giffords, is also airing an ad critical of the first-term senator.