Gays Against Guns — a New York-based LGTBQ gun violence prevention group known for staging dramatic rallies — headed for the Manchester, New Hampshire, offices of Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Oct. 15 to protest the Republican’s pro-gun voting record.
Locked in a tough re-election battle, Ayotte’s seat remains a key piece of the Democratic strategy to flip control of the Senate — a factor, critics say, that has forced the incumbent to reframe her positions on gun control in order to attract moderate voters.
Ayotte received an A-rating from the National Rifle Association, meaning the organization defines her as “solidly pro-gun.” In April 2013, she voted against a conservative-backed universal background check proposal introduced as a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and instead supported a rival background check bill Democrats lambasted as “milquetoast.”
Ayotte highlights the latter vote as proof of her support for background checks in a June campaign ad. Yet, the group’s members said they refuse to let Ayotte paint herself as a moderate when it comes to her congressional voting record.
Protesters gathered outside Ayotte’s office dressed in white costumes, carrying signs and chanting “first she voted, then she lied, Kelly is guilty of homicide.”
The demonstration was led by a Gays Against Guns member dressed as a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing — a visual characterization of how the group views Ayotte’s re-election campaign.
“She’s consistently voted against efforts that 90 percent of Americans support, such as universal background checks on ALL gun sales,” the group said in a press release Friday. “But then again, that’s what bought-and-sold puppets of the gun lobby are supposed to do!”
Meanwhile, Ayotte’s on-again, off-again support of Donald Trump — including referring to the Republican nominee as a “role model” in a televised debate earlier this month — widened Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan’s lead to nine points in the Oct. 20 WMUR Granite State Poll of likely voters. A Real Clear Politics average of polls, however, shows Ayotte trailing by just 2 percent as of Thursday.
Ayotte continues distancing herself from the debate gaffe, telling CNN in an interview Monday, “I corrected that because I made a mistake. I mean debates many people are — you’re asked a lot of questions at a debate. But it’s clear to me that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, are role models.”