President’s Campaign Arm Making Gun Control Push

BY Christina Bellantoni  February 22, 2013 at 8:45 AM EST

Guns for sale. Photo by Mike Fritz/PBS NewsHour.

The Morning Line

Even as a government spending crisis nears, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been working steadily on gun control measures, both in public and private.

The president’s newly revamped campaign arm, now dubbed Organizing for Action, on Friday mounts a major push to apply pressure on members of Congress to back a specific proposal from the White House: closing the loopholes in background checks to purchase firearms.

The first “Day of Action” will feature more than 100 events in 80 different congressional districts. An official with the group said the events include “Letter to the editor writing parties, or rallies and press events,” along with candlelight vigils. Just like campaign events in 2008 and 2012, the supporters organized “what they thought was the best event for their community,” the official said.

The effort launched with a to-the-camera video from Sami Rahamim, whose father was killed in a workplace shooting. “We’ve lost enough friends and family members and fellow Americans,” Rahamim says. “It’s time to do something about this.”

Organizing for Action also will buy online ads in districts of members “who have not yet publicly committed to support background checks.” The group dubs the issue “the first of a number of common sense tactics is to strengthen and broaden background checks for those who wish to purchase firearms.”

It’s one more example of the president using his own popularity and bully pulpit as public sentiment looks to be on his side.

Speaking in Connecticut Thursday, 12 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Biden said that there is “a moral price to be paid for inaction.” The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker detailed the impassioned plea as Biden cautioned lawmakers to pay attention. “If you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children,” the vice president said. “And guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically should go to those who refuse to act. . . . The American people are with us.”

And groups are getting just as involved. Consider this new spot from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It takes a simple approach — women speaking right to the camera asking viewers to “demand a plan.”

“One child every three hours,” the moms say. “Enough.”

Watch it here or below.

As we noted here earlier this week, the National Rifle Association has its own campaign against Democratic Senators up for re-election in 2014. The newspaper ads also go after one Republican: Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

And Tuesday’s special election in Chicago is looking bright for Democratic former state Rep. Robin Kelly, thanks to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nearly $2 million investment in making the race about guns.

On Friday, both the Washington Post and New York Times led with enterprising stories on guns on their front pages.

The Times reported on state-based efforts to require insurance for gun owners. The Post focused on one woman’s sometimes-lonely fight as a gun control advocate in North Dakota.

Talking Points Memo’s David Taintor notes that the mother of an Aurora shooting victim was shocked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told her at a recent town hall meeting that she needed some “straight talk” about the chances of the Assault Weapons Ban become law once more. On Wednesday the Senate holds its first hearing on the Assault Weapons Ban proposal.

This debate isn’t going away any time soon.

PBS’ weeklong “After Newtown” series exploring every facet of the societal debate in the wake of the tragic shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn. wraps on Friday with a look at mental health and gun violence in Chicago.

On the NewsHour Thursday, special correspondent Trimmel Gomes of Florida Public Radio/WFSU-FM reported on the 1 million concealed carry permits issued in the Sunshine State, nicknamed by some “The Gunshine State.”

The piece examined the tricky balance between rights and control, and featured interviews with gun enthusiasts and law enforcement officials who fear the state’s Republican leaders have gone too far. Watch Gomes’ report here or below:

“After Newton” includes robust online offerings you can check out here, and find all the details about which pieces are airing and when here.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO came to an agreement Thursday on an issue that was a major sticking point when immigration reform failed in 2007: low-skilled workers. “The fact that business and labor can come together to negotiate in good faith over contentious issues should be a signal to Congress and the American people that support for immigration reform is widespread and growing, and is important to our economy and our society,” the business and labor groups said in a statement. “This is an urgent national priority and Congress should act accordingly.”
  • A group of Republican senators penned a letter to the White House calling for ex-Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination as defense secretary to be withdrawn. Not signing: McCain and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, N.H. And you can add Sen. Richard Shelby to Hagel’s list of GOP supporters.
  • There are seven days until the sequester cuts kick in. On Thursday, Mr. Obama called Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to talk through his proposal. Senate Democrats say they will move forward with their plan when Congress returns next week. Politico sees the administration shifting gears in the fight. And the president will visit a shipyard in Newport News, Virginia Tuesday to highlight the expected cuts. Finally, the Washington Post details how the animals at the National Zoo could be affected by the cuts.
  • A 2016 re-election bid? “Sure, why not?” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the Reno-Gazette Journal.
  • The Hill cites GOP sources who say Rep. Phil Gingrey won’t pursue a Senate bid.
  • House Republicans will reveal their own version of the Violence Against Women Act next week, Roll Call’s Daniel Newhauser reports.
  • The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee raised just $1.5 million in January, way less than its Democratic counterpart.
  • In the latest Atlantic, Molly Ball dives in to polling.
  • The Post details the steep climb for likely 2016 hopeful Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
  • A look at quirky bills filed in state legislatures.
  • Former first lady Laura Bush asked to be removed from an ad calling for marriage equality.
  • Former President Jimmy Carter said that Mr. Obama thanked his grandson for the “47 percent” tape that doomed Mitt Romney last fall.
  • The Guardian takes you step by step through what happened in Georgia this week when mentally challenged Death Row inmate Warren Hill went through all the actions before his planned execution, only to have it called off.
  • The Boston Globe looks at one GOP Senate hopeful, businessman Gabriel Gomez.
  • Sen. John Thune wouldn’t lie to second-graders, would he?
  • The White House opened the lottery for the annual Easter Egg Roll on Thursday. Details here.
  • This is really, really cool.
  • People, it’s time to get Peep’n. Don’t be intimidated by how awesome our submission was in 2012.
  • Today’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA focuses on medical research and notes that cancer and heart disease get the most attention.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • The NewsHour fielded a debate between Paul Howard of the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute and Ron Pollack of Families USA about governors’ opting in to the Obama administration’s Medicaid expansion. Watch the segment here or below:
  • The NewsHour led Thursday’s show with an examination of some promising figures when it comes to obesity. Here is the segment, and don’t miss Big Bird’s cameos to promote healthy eating and excercise in twovideos with First Lady Michelle Obama.
  • Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill both have new blog entries up. Gwen gives her take on her interview with Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court this week, noting that when the justice walks into a room, “It’s as if the Bronx has come to Washington.” And if you’re not sure what sequestration has to do with smartphone apps or volleyball tournaments, Judy can fill you in here.
  • If you missed Gwen’s live chat, you can relive it here.
  • Ray Suarez went over the Oscar nominees with the New York Times’ Tony Scott. And play our quiz to test your Academy Awards knowledge.
  • We showcase one photographer’s month in Damascus.

TOP TWEETS

 

 

 

 

 

Cassie M. Chew, Elizabeth Summers and politics desk assistant Simone Pathe contributed to this report.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.

Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah and @meenaganesan.