Candidates from both parties are adding guns as props to their campaign ads this season not only to show their tough stances on the issues, but to separate themselves further from President Barack Obama and his gun control policies.
Republican Joni Ernst may have started the trend this time around, reports The Washington Times
, after she ran advertising before winning the Iowa Senate primary in June showing her shooting at a bull's-eye while promising she'll "unload" on Obamacare.
And Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan, running for Senate, kicked off his November campaign by shooting a television set in a protest against negative campaign advertising.
Guns will continue to play predominantly in the next few months' advertising, with the National Rifle Association
announcing on Wednesday its $11.4 million national ad campaign to promote Republican Senate candidates in vulnerable states such as Arkansas, Colorado, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Iowa, and Georgia.
"What's new this election cycle is that some politicians have realized that folks who choose to own a gun for sport or to defend their families are now truly motivated and even mad," NRA attorney Chuck Michel said.
But Democrats are also picking up their arms, reports The Times.
In July, Washington Democrat Estako Beltran released a video showing aiming at a pinata elephant. He still lost his primary challenge, placing third out of 12 candidates.
According to Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli, the firearms could help candidates from both sides appeal to voters while emphasising their local roots and separating themselves from Washington.
"The kind of people who care about it really care about it and really vote," said Ciruli. "Democrats need to show independence from the standard liberal wing in Washington, including President Obama. They're anxious to show they're really local. It's both separating themselves and declaring independence from Washington."
Alison Lundergan Grimes
, running as a Democratic challenger in Kentucky against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has also come out with a gun ad that shows her skeet shooting.
McConnell shot back
with an ad of his own, that says Grimes "thinks shooting a gun will convince you she's not like Barack Obama" and then showing a 2012 photo of the president firing a gun.
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