John DiStaso's Granite Status: Gabrielle Giffords' gun control advocacy group critical of Ayotte in new radio ad
HITTING AYOTTE'S BIG VOTE. Last week, Sen. Kelly Ayotte was a key vote in the U.S. Senate's 54-46 rejection of a plan by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania to require background checks for guns purchased at gun shows or on the Internet.
Now, the Granite Status has learned, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly's Americans for Responsible Solutions on Wednesday will launch a two-week, $49,000 radio ad buy throughout southern New Hampshire accusing the New Hampshire Republican of "ignoring" the will of Granite Staters.
The state Republican Party dismissed Americans for Responsible Solutions as an out-of-state group and said Ayotte has "worked on legislation to strengthen the nation's flawed background check system and helped pass legislation to improve the mental health system."
The ARS ad will air on stations in Manchester, Concord and Keene and on the Seacoast.
The local tie in the Giffords-Kelly advocacy group/political action committee is its executive director and co-founder. Pia Carusone is Giffords' former chief of staff and the former communications director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
Carusone was widely quoted nationally following the shooting rampage in Arizona in January 2011, in which Gifford was among the victims.
Ayotte is not up for reelection until 2016, but is viewed at this early stage as strong favorite for reelection. Still, gun control advocates believe she is now more vulnerable than she was before the vote, and hope they can sway her to their side with some on-the-air nudging.
The ad script has two women discussing Ayotte, with one saying, "Remember that ad with Kelly Ayotte saying she's one of us?" recalling Ayotte's 2010 campaign ad where she was "out for a run."
"It sure didn't take long for Ayotte to 'go Washington,'" says a woman in the ad.
The ad says that nearly nine in 10 Granite Staters support universal background checks, and charges that she "just ignored us." The poll cited was released last month by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The ad says Manchin-Toomey was "bipartisan legislation supported by law enforcement" and that it "protected Second Amendment rights."
The ad then urges listeners to call Ayotte and "tell her to listen to the will of the people for a change."
The group, which says it is non-partisan, will also begin airing an ad in Maine tomorrow with a former chief of police and mayor of Lewiston thanking Republican Sen. Susan Collins for her vote in favor of the Manchin-Toomey plan.
It will also air an ad in Kentucky accusing Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of ignoring his constituents, while also airing "thank you" ads for Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu and South Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan.
Its total ad buy nationally is $377,000.
Ayotte was the only Northeastern senator to oppose the plan. ARS points out that she was a strong anti-crime Attorney General and that the senator she succeeded, Republican Judd Gregg, favored an assault weapons ban.
Giffords, in a New York Times opinion piece last week, accused the senators who opposed the Manchin-Toomey plan of "cowardice" and indicated there will be a response.
Carusone said, "We're disappointed in Senator Ayotte's vote against the law enforcement endorsed, bipartisan background check proposal. The 89 percent of Granite Staters who support this common sense, moderate proposal expected more from her. No matter how you spin it, a vote against background checks was choosing to listen to the corporate gun lobby over the voices of Granite Staters."
In response, NHGOP executive director Matthew Slater said: "This is an out of state group citing a poll commissioned by an organization backed by the liberal mayor of New York City. What the ad doesn't say is that Senator Ayotte worked on legislation to strengthen the nation's flawed background check system and helped pass legislation to improve the mental health system."
(For earlier Granite Status reports click on "Granite Status" above.)