August 21, 2014
By FRANCIS X. CLINES
As they say in the old shoot-‘em-up westerns, the National Rifle Association is calling out Michael Bloomberg. “Hey, Bloomberg! Keep your politics in New York,” commands the gun lobby’s expensive new ad campaign attacking the former mayor and chief antagonist of the N.R.A., who can hold his own in any big money fast-draw.
The ad, honed for the gun-rights vote in this year’s congressional elections, attacks Mr. Bloomberg as a “billionaire elitist hypocrite” because he’s investing $50 million in a gun safety campaign aimed at the same national elections. (Why this makes him a hypocrite is unclear.)
It opens with a woman driving a red pick-up truck across a rural expanse while a narrator intones, “Liberals call this ‘fly-over country’ — it’s an insult.” The camera pans to a gilt-edged portrait of Mr. Bloomberg in the back of the open truck as the narrator continues: “But nobody insults your life like this guy.”
“Keep your hands off our guns and our freedom,” the gun lobby tells Mr. Bloomberg.
The ad avoids concrete issues, like a more comprehensive background check system and proposed limitations on military styled assault weapons. Instead, the ad keeps its message ad hominem and a bit ad Gotham, too, declaring, “Bloomberg tries to ban your snack food, your sodas and most of all your guns.” The N.R.A. accuses him of running a “nanny state” agenda as mayor, devoted to crimping individual freedoms.
The gun lobby is obviously betting that it’s better to beat up on Mr. Bloomberg than discuss policy on the merits. It has a separate web site (meetbloomberg.com) dedicated to discrediting the former mayor, which contends that his past political investments failed to move voters “despite the post Sandy Hook environment” — a reference to the gun carnage in which 20 schoolchildren were slain in 2012. The multi-million-dollar N.R.A. campaign, entitled “insult,” begins this week in seven states, with more to come.
Mr. Bloomberg’s organization, “Everytown for Gun Safety,” aims to hold its own in this electioneering face-off. The former mayor’s spokesman, Stu Loeser, said a strong gun-safety message helped defeat candidates last year in Illinois, California and Virginia. “This November, we will help defeat others who have made the mistake of aligning with the N.R.A.,” vowed Mr. Loeser.