Schumer says Bloomberg’s gun ads won’t have the desired effect

Unnamed hunter, from a Bloomberg television ad. ()
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Sen. Chuck Schumer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg both think they know how best to appeal to middle American gun owners.

"Frankly, I don’t think Bloomberg’s ads are effective,” Schumer told Time magazine in an interview for the new issue. “The mayor of New York City putting ads against people in red states is not going to be effective.” 

Bloomberg recently began an ad blitz to target senators who voted against the background-check bill, an effort that could lead red-state Democrats to dig in their heels against new laws, while potentially endangering the Democratic majority Schumer helped build in the Senate.

One of Bloomberg's ads featured a man holding a shotgun, sitting on the back of a truck, talking about his support for the Second Amendment, and for background checks.

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Opponents of new gun laws picked apart the ad, claiming the actor wasn't a real hunter, and that he violated three tenets of basic gun safety in the 30-second spot. (The actor later gave an interview, insisting he is a real hunter.)

According to Schumer, one senator told him that constituents had shrugged off the ad, because the accent was all wrong.

Schumer employed his own Southern accent in the Time interview, offering his own script for the fictional owner of a gun shop in Winnemucca, Nevada. (The town itself is real, and has the slogan: "Proud of It.")

“Now I’m an N.R.A. member. I’m proud of that,” Schumer told Time, in his accent. “My daddy was, his daddy before him, and my kids are going to be NRA members. But on this one? Background checks? They’re wrong. That background check ain’t gonna affect me. I’m a law-abiding citizen. It’ll just affect felons, spousal abusers, people [who are] mentally ill. So on this one, I don’t agree with the N.R.A.”

Yesterday, Bloomberg sent a letter to New York donors urging them not to support Democratic senators who voted against the background check deal, an attempt to staunch the flow of money that Schumer helped facilitate as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 and 2008.

Bloomberg has disputed the notion his ads might be counterproductive.

On a conference call yesterday to announce a new background-check bus tour, which will include stops in 25 states, the mayor's top gun advisor, John Feinblatt, told me senators who push back on Bloomberg's advice are "just trying to change the subject and not explain why they chose to side with the gun lobby rather than side with their constituents."

Howard Wolfson, a top adviser to Bloomberg (and former Schumer aide), did not immediately return an email for comment on Schumer's remarks.