CHARLESTON, W.Va. — He famously fired a gun in a TV ad while boasting of an endorsement from the National Rifle Association, but U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin can no longer rely on the backing of that powerful lobby.
The West Virginia Democrat faced off against the NRA during last week’s debate over his proposal to tighten background checks for gun buyers, marking his second break with a major support group since his rise from the governor’s office to Capitol Hill.
Strongly opposing the measure, the NRA told lawmakers it would track how they voted and consider that when deciding how to weigh in on the midterm elections for Congress next year. Manchin took to the Senate floor to rally support for the proposal and denounce the NRA’s allegations regarding its provisions before it failed to advance in a Wednesday vote.
Manchin entered the debate with a long record of support from the gun-rights group. He boasted of an ‘A+’ NRA rating when he successfully ran for governor in 2004 and 2008. The group had endorsed him throughout his political career, including in 2010 when he sought the Senate seat of the late Robert C. Byrd.
Manchin won that close race, during which his campaign aired a much-discussed ad that showed him shooting a rifle at environmental legislation supported by the Obama administration while touting his NRA backing.