Kelly Ayotte, Fake Background Checks Guinea Pig

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 13 2013 12:48 PM

Kelly Ayotte, Fake Background Checks Guinea Pig

Marco Rubio's PAC is on the air in New Hampshire with an ad defending Sen. Kelly Ayotte from the slings and arrows of outrageous bloggers.

This would rate a minor eyebrow-raise if it happened in a vaccuum. But it's been only five days since the NRA went on the air with a less campaign-esque, more issue-focused ad insisting that Ayotte voted the way any fan of background checks might have wanted.

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Conservatives are admitting, with their ad dollars, that the throttling of Manchin-Toomey really did hurt a few Republicans. Ayotte isn't even up for re-election until 2016! In a state like New Hampshire, which regularly elects Republicans statewide but has trended towards the Democrats, they need to pretend that Ayotte really did support a background checks bill. Only the NRA ad attempts to source that claim, citing Ayotte's aye for the Grassley amendment. But gun control advocates opposed the Grassley amendment; it loosened the prohibition on sales to people "adjudicated mentally ill," it didn't close the private sales loophole, and it was basically thrown down at the last minute to give Republicans something to vote for. And it worked—here are the TV ads allowing Ayotte to be portrayed not as someone who went along with the GOP plan to kill Manchin-Toomey, but as a moderate who voted for something.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.