Democratic presidential hopeful and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is going after rival candidate and current front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on one of his signature issues: Gun control.
On Monday, just ahead of Tuesday night's Democratic debate in South Carolina, Bloomberg put out a 90-second video ad critiquing Sanders' past legislative record of support from the National Rifle Association in past elections, such as when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990.
It also goes on to say that Sanders tried to block the Brady gun control bill five times after taking federal office, plays a clip of him explaining different views on gun control between urban and rural states in 2015. The ad also points out other gun votes Sanders has made in on issues like checking guns in bags on Amtrak trains and firearm manufacturer liability.
"The NRA paved the road to Washington for Bernie Sanders," text of the tweet reads. "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."
The NRA paved the road to Washington for Bernie Sanders. He spent the next three decades making sure they got a re… https://t.co/CNsIbbeOyS— Mike Bloomberg (@Mike Bloomberg) 1582554163.0
This isn't the first time that Sanders' past votes against the 1993 Brady bill — which requires federally licensed gun dealers to perform background checks on prospective buyers — have been used against him on the campaign trail. His 2016 presidential primary opponent Hillary Clinton also brought up the Brady votes during the last presidential election.
In this election cycle, former Vice President Joe Biden has also used Sanders' history on gun control in an effort to weaken the front-runner. Speaking to an anti-gun group in Nevada last week, Biden said, "Too many Republicans -- and some Democrats, like Bernie Sanders — voted five times against the Brady Bill that I was passing."
The former vice president's campaign also put out a video last week attacking Sanders for past comments on gun manufactures' liability for crimes committed with their products.
So where does Sanders actually stand on guns in this election? According to his campaign website, he wants to ban so-called "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazines, as well as support "red flag" gun confiscation laws, which hardly makes him a Second Amendment supporter's dream candidate. He's also proudly bragged about getting a "D-minus" rating from the NRA for years.
Though, the political prudence of trying to win the nomination by running to the left of Sanders on the Second Amendment is highly questionable to say the least. After all, even if the tactic succeeds in knocking the self-described socialist out of the first place slot, the means of doing so are likely to give Republican campaigns in the general election even more opportunity and cause to portray the eventual Democratic nominee as an anti-gun extremist in states where gun control isn't already a foregone conclusion.