Hillary Clinton and her campaign were not on the same page on the issue of Vermont guns during Thursday night’s Democratic debate.
Clinton told CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer that a series of comments she’s made in recent weeks about the number of firearms recovered in New York was not a condemnation of the Green Mountain State or its junior senator, Bernie Sanders. But at the same time, Clinton’s campaign was busy sending out a press blast drawing that exact same link.
“Are you seriously blaming Vermont and implicitly Senator Sanders for New York’s gun violence?” Blitzer asked Clinton.
“No, of course not. Of course not,” Clinton responded.
But during the debate, Clinton’s press shop sent out a factcheck memo with the headline: “Vermont was #1 per-capita source for guns recovered at New York crime scenes.”
“Sanders often says that gun laws should differ between rural and urban communities, but he doesn’t acknowledge that other states are impacted by weak gun laws in states like Vermont,” the memo reads. “And Sanders’ gun record in Congress doesn’t just affect Vermont — it has national implications.”
It’s a continuation of a line of a attack Clinton started last week during a closed-door meeting with New York lawmakers and lobbyists. She initially reportedly claimed that “many” guns recovered in New York come from Vermont, which has relatively relaxed gun control laws.
But The Daily Caller and other outlets pointed out that out of 7,686 firearms recovered and traced in New York in 2014, only 55 were first purchased in Vermont.
That’s compared to 371 that came from New York’s southern neighbor, Pennsylvania.
Clinton and her campaign revised the attack, asserting that Vermont leads the nation in terms of exported “crime guns” per capita. But fact-checkers and other observers pointing out that citing per capita statistics is of little use since Vermont is one of the least populous states in the U.S.
Clinton never did answer during Thursday’s debate why she and her campaign have implied that Sanders and Vermont are responsible for New York crime. But Sanders did point out that she dodged the question.
“The only problem is, Wolf, she didn’t answer your question,” he said. “You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible for a lot of the gun violence. You made the point what she said was totally absurd.”
“Why did she put out that statement?” he continued.
Sanders also pointed out that Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has endorsed Clinton, has said that the link Clinton has cited is unfounded. (RELATED: Pro-Clinton Superdelegate Says Hillary’s Latest Gun Claim Is Completely Wrong)
“It is campaign season, therefore, things are sometimes said by all the candidates that sometimes aren’t entirely accurate,” Shumlin said last week.