At a Pete Buttigieg town hall in Arlington, VA on Sunday, his supporters shared some unflattering opinions of Sen. Bernie Sanders. They called him too extreme, too impractical, and too "angry." And they certainly didn't foresee him winning a general election with his radical, socialist message.
There was another concern too. His supposed coziness with the NRA. One voter yelled out something about Bernie's "funding from the NRA."
In a new attack ad, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg argues that the NRA helped propel Bernie to the Senate in the early 1990s, thanks to a letter from Wayne LaPierre and thousands of dollars in advertising. The ad also notes that he voted with the NRA on more than one occasion, and "voted to protect gun companies from lawsuits."
The NRA paved the road to Washington for Bernie Sanders.— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 24, 2020
He spent the next three decades making sure they got a return on their investment.
We deserve a president who is not beholden to the gun lobby.#NotMeNRA pic.twitter.com/HLYZe4J5PM
"We deserve a president who has never been bought by the NRA," the ad says in closing.
Bloomberg senior national spokeswoman Sabrina Singh addressed her candidate's new campaign tactic against Sanders, now the bonafide frontrunner, in a recent "America's Newsroom" interview on Fox News.
"So I notice you have a new digital ad this morning all about guns, hitting Bernie Sanders for allegedly being too close to the NRA, being from Vermont, and yet Michael Bloomberg had an opportunity face-to-face to bring up guns and you had that Las Vegas massacre just a couple years ago and yet he didn’t do it, and that’s one of many reasons why his critiques are saying he just bombed," anchor Ed Henry noted.
"Well, I have to correct you on the Bernie Sanders being allegedly close to the NRA," Singh replied. "There’s no allegedly. He’s close to the NRA. The NRA propped up his first campaign."
In addition, Singh explained that Sanders has voted five times against the Brady Bill, a 1993 measure that mandated the establishment of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
She said viewers can expect to hear more about Bernie's gun record at tomorrow night's debate.
"I think we saw a lot in that debate talking about healthcare again," she said. "Guns did not come up. I think come tomorrow night’s debate, I think we will possibly see Mike bring up guns and other issues."
Singh noted that Bloomberg, in contrast, has a history of promoting gun control, including the Everytown for Gun Violence, which he founded in 2014.
"The issue of gun violence has been so close to Mike and something that he’s worked on for so long, so I think it’s going to be a big point of contrast tomorrow," she added.
I’ve been the NRA’s #1 enemy for decades. Bernie’s been the NRA’s buddy for decades.— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 24, 2020
Who do we want to represent the Democratic Party? pic.twitter.com/I7vgubn1Hl
The Sanders campaign rejects the notion that his pockets are lined with NRA cash.
“The NRA never endorsed Bernie Sanders and he has never taken a dime of their money," said Sanders senior adviser Jeff Weaver. "In fact, he lost his 1988 congressional race because he backed an assault weapons ban," he said. "But even after that, Sanders maintained his opposition to these weapons of war.”
Sanders himself had a chance to respond at a CNN town hall on Monday night.
"My administration will do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants," he told an attendee.
The NRA endorsed Donald Trump in 2016 sooner than any other previous presidential candidate. Since becoming president, Trump has repeatedly pledged to protect the Second Amendment. It was one of the loudest applause lines at his rally in Manchester, NH earlier this month. Bernie and Bloomberg, on the other hand, have both supported gun control legislation, and it's safe to say the NRA is not "buddies" with either of them.
Bloomberg has dedicated billions to disarming good people. He said that "average" Americans shouldn't have guns.— NRA (@NRA) February 20, 2020
But, do you ever see Mike without armed guards. Is his life more valuable than you or anyone in your family?
Mike is such a #hypocrite. #DemDebate #DemocraticDebate pic.twitter.com/shJYJb2AgW
But guns aren't the only thing Bloomberg plans to throw at Sanders at Tuesday night's debate, as you can see.
Fidel Castro left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people.— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 24, 2020
But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program. pic.twitter.com/3Xqu435uoA
The Charleston, SC debate starts tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS. The South Carolina primary is Saturday. As always, follow our Townhall live blog for the event.