With the Iowa caucuses a week away and Hillary Clinton locked in a statistical tie in the polling average with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence stepped in on behalf of Clinton to unload on Sanders for his votes in favor of gun rights.
The Brady Campaign endorsed Hillary at an Iowa event on Jan. 12, with group president Dan Gross accusing Sanders at the time of voting for “literally one of the most evil pieces of special interest legislation passed in this nation in decades” — the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers from liability when their weapons are used in the commission of crimes.
The gun-control group was outraged when Sanders sent out a mailer today describing himself as a “lifelong advocate for gun safety,” and quickly pulled together a press call to trash the senator’s claims.
Gross said of Sanders’ mailer, “A lot of real advocates out there find it offensive.”
Sanders’ camp, though, fired back that Clinton is the real flip-flopper on gun safety.
They cited an Associated Press analysis finding that Hillary is going easy on anti-gun ads in Iowa and heavy on gun control in New Hampshire, and noted that she was the candidate more in favor of gun rights when going up against strident gun-control advocate Barack Obama in 2008. Obama derided her as “Annie Oakley” at the time.
“When you really believe an issue is important you don’t hide it from voters in one state to gain political advantage,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said. “This is exactly what is wrong with the political process. It’s no secret that Secretary Clinton has repeatedly changed her views on gun safety from one election to another.”
“Now we see the Clinton campaign is gaming its message from one state to the other within the 2016 election.”
Hillary has a series of get-out-the-caucus events across Iowa in the run-up to Monday. She’s planning a victory night party at Drake University in Des Moines.
Sanders was campaigning in Newton, Iowa, today with ice-cream kings Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who have known Sanders for 30 years.
“He confounds the pundits every time, because people recognize authenticity and passion and realness,” Cohen said. “I mean, he’s not just reading the words. He’s not reading the polls and saying, ‘Well, I’ve got to say this to get elected.’”
“I thought we left these guys in Vermont,” Sanders joked. “They’re following me around.”