Manchin stands up to NRA in new ad
Posted in the Minneapolis Forum
#1 Jun 20, 2013
I'm Joe Manchin, and I approved this message to bring common sense to Washington. I'm a lifetime NRA member, but I don't walk in lockstep with the NRA's Washington leadership, this administration, or any special interest group. West Virginia, you know me. I haven't changed, and you know I've always fought for our gun rights. I believe that we can protect the Second Amendment while making our communities safer. I think most law-abiding gun owners agree with me. Call the NRA and tell them to support criminal background checks.
The backstory here is that the National Rifle Association decided to start running ads attacking Joe Manchin for proposing expanded background checks despite the fact that Manchin is a lifelong NRA member and his background check proposal is popular across the country, even among Republicans.
Manchin isn't up for reelection until 2018, so he probably could have ignored the NRA's attack, but he's smart enough to realize that the NRA's attack was actually a tremendous opportunity for him to reinforce his brand as an independent voice, and that's exactly what his ad does.
Manchin carries a rifle throughout the ad, but because this isn't the first time he's done so, it doesn't come across as defensive or unnatural. His argument that it's possible to protect gun rights while making them safer isn't unusual, but it builds up to the ad's call to action, which is unusual: Manchin asks voters to call the NRA and tell them to support criminal background checks.
The net result is that Manchin delivers a haymaker—defining the NRA as being so extreme that it's attacking him because he supports criminal background checks—without breaking a sweat or appearing to throw a punch. And he asks voters for their support—not for him personally, but for the common sense approach he's trying to take.
Manchin isn't a perfect senator—he's on the wrong side of marriage equality, for example—but he's doing a terrific job showing why politicians shouldn't be afraid of the NRA.
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