N.R.A. backs Ayotte on T.V., with a dig at Bloomberg

Bloomberg, in an N.R.A. ad for Kelly Ayotte. ()
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ad campaign against Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire has drawn a pointed response ad from the National Rifle Association.

"Seen this T.V. ad paid for by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg?" asks a female voice-over at the beginning of the 30-second spot, as Bloomberg's face pops up on-screen.

"Don't believe it," she then says, as a "DON'T BELIEVE IT" stamp covers Bloomberg's face.

Bloomberg, who aspires to create a political counterweight to the N.R.A., has targeted Ayotte for voting against the Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have expanded background checks to include nearly all firearm purchases.

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Ayotte has become one of the more conspicuous barometers of the political effects of the background check vote, with the families of Newtown victims trailing her appearances at town halls over the congressional recess, and one public opinion poll showing her approval rating down 15 points since October of last year.

The N.R.A. ad, echoing an op-ed Ayotte wrote this week, says she actually does support background checks, and includes a screen shot of her "Yea" vote for a less-inclusive Republican amendment that was sponsored by Iowa senator Charles Grassley.

That amendment would have increased funding to the database for background checks, but would not have expanded them to include online purchases or gun show sales, both of which were covered by the Manchin-Toomey amendment.

The ad says Ayotte, a former prosecutor, "stands with prosecutors and police for New Hampshire's values."

Unlike some of her Republican colleagues, Ayotte hasn't given much indication she'll change her vote, despite the prodding of Bloomberg's group and some of her local colleagues.

"At the end of this debate, the American people are expecting leadership and they want lives protected," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told me last week. "And Senator Ayotte must listen to her constituencies if she expects to continue to serve."