Obama loses 2014 wedge issue in Senate gun vote

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Senate’s effective rejection of President Barack Obama’s post-Newtown gun control bill robs the Democratic Party of an important tool for trying to regain a majority in the House in November 2014.

“Are they serious?” a visibly angry Obama demanded of opponents of the Toomey/Manchin Senate bill. In a late-afternoon announcement outside the White House, the president added that if Congress continues not to pass a gun control bill, “the answer will have to come from the voters.”

But without a Senate bill, there’s little chance that vulnerable GOP House members in suburban swing-districts will face the unpleasant choice of either recording a public vote against what Obama repeatedly describes as “common-sense measures to reduce gun violence and save lives” or voting against gun rights supported by the National Rifle Association and many Americans.

The wedge issue was highlighted this morning by Obama’s 2012 strategic advisor, David Axelrod.

“A bunch of suburban, swing district Republicans in House are probably deeply relieved that Senate appears poised to kill background checks,” Axelrod said in a morning tweet.

“Interested to see if [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg and others who’ve worked hard on this issue remain active in 2014 elections, holding no votes accountable,” Axelrod added at 9.43 a.m. EST.

The Senate Wednesday failed by six votes to reach the sixty-vote threshold to bring the bill to a full vote.

Ironically, Obama lost partly because of opposition from several red-state Democrats facing re-election in November 2014.

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, Montana Sen. Max Baucus and Alaska Sen. Mark Begich all voted against cloture, and all three face a tough reelection campaign this next November.

Since at least January, Obama has been pushing this issue, aiming squarely at boosting turnout among gun-averse, liberal-leaning suburban women.

The enemy, as described by Obama, is the “gun lobby.”

“What’s more important — doing whatever it takes to get a A grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?” Obama asked during a televised rally held at the White House Jan. 16.

“There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty — not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves,” he claimed. “Behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever,” he claimed.

“This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe.  This is how we will be judged.  And their voices should compel us to change,” he declared in his full campaign-style 2012 tone.

Obama was accompanied by Vice President Biden, who has made gun-control a signature issue of his second-term preparations for a presidential run.

“It’s been 33 days since the nation’s heart was broken by the horrific, senseless violence that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School — 20 beautiful first-graders gunned down in a place that’s supposed to be their second sanctuary,” Biden said.

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