Rubio comes to Ayotte's defense on guns

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 8:14am

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose votes on gun background checks have haunted her back at home in New Hampshire, will receive some support from another GOP senator seen as a rising star.

Sen. Marco Rubio's political committee Reclaim America will begin running a TV ad Tuesday in her defense, joining a commercial the National Rifle Association put on the state's main broadcast channel last week.

Reclaim America's ad is the first to run in a six-figure buy, sources close to Rubio said.

It highlights two aspects of her identity in the state: She is both a mother and a former state attorney general known to be tough on crime, in part for seeking the death penalty for a man convicted of shooting a police officer.

"A former prosecutor, Kelly Ayotte knows how to reduce gun violence," the narrator says. "Ayotte voted to fix background checks, strengthen mental health screenings, and more resources to prosecute criminals using guns. Washington might not like it, but you can count on it."

She was criticized in the state for voting against the background check compromise advocated by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal killed in that December shooting confronted her at a town hall meeting, an exchange that drew national attention.

Among the groups running television and online ads against her were those backed by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Organizing for Action, the advocacy group that emerged out of President Barack Obama's campaign.

In the Senate, Ayotte and others introduced a separate measure, the "Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act." In an op-ed on local sites, she wrote that it "improves the existing background check system, addresses mental health gaps in the criminal justice system, boosts resources to improve school safety, and criminalizes gun trafficking and straw purchases."

She also touted her support for two pieces of legislation on mental health.

-- -- CNN's Kevin Liptak Todd Sperry contributed to this report

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