FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A week after running a dramatic TV ad in which Alison Lundergan Grimes said she disagreed with President Barack Obama on guns, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate told a radio interviewer Thursday she would work to close a loophole that allows private gun owners to sell guns at gun shows without a background check.
Closing that loophole was a centerpiece element of Obama's gun control proposals following the shooting deaths of 20 elementary school students and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. That effort, which included several other gun control measures, was blocked by Senate Republicans, who are led by Grimes' opponent in the Kentucky senate race, incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell. McConnell has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association's political action committee.
National polls have shown that the proposal to expand background checks on assault weapons has overwhelming public support.
"I believe it is worth having the discussion to actually work to close the gun show loophole that we see," Grimes told Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio in a lengthy interview broadcast throughout the state. "You shouldn't have different standards when you go to a gun store versus gun shows."
A McConnell spokeswoman criticized Grimes for pushing "Obama's agenda," saying "she sounded exactly like the kind of partisan Obama loyalist that has been attacking Kentucky in Washington for the last six years."
But Grimes did disagree with Obama on two major gun control proposals: a ban on assault weapons and a proposal to make it more difficult for people to inherit guns from their parents and grandparents.
"I don't think banning weapons is the way to actually help to reduce the violence we see here in the United States. It's working to make sure that we educate people and enforce the laws," she said.
Grimes said making it harder to inherit shooting rifles is "something President Obama would try to do," adding that she believes "in the Second Amendment and support the rights of individuals to bear arms, and I'm a pretty good shot."
McConnell has made tying Grimes to Obama the focus of his re-election campaign. Grimes has tried to distance herself from the president, who polls show is deeply unpopular in Kentucky. One way she has done that is with a TV ad that started airing last week in which Grimes, seen shooting skeet, declares, "I'm not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA."
Both candidates have tried to show themselves as comfortable with guns in a mostly rural state that has a large hunting community. McConnell garnered national attention at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in March when he waved a rifle over his head before presenting an award to Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. And Grimes has repeatedly challenged McConnell to come to the shooting range with her.
Kentucky Sports Radio is broadcast to 26 stations around the state. Jones, the host, said McConnell has accepted an invitation to appear on the show as well but has not committed to a specific date.