TILTON, N.H. — Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s town hall meeting here ended with scant discussion of gun control, an issue that consumed Washington for much of the past month.
Pro-gun control activists, who attended the meeting, were incensed. Security brushed aside two women who approached Ayotte and demanded to speak with the first-term Republican about her vote against expanded background checks for commercial gun sales, underscoring the lingering controversy that continues to hover over the New Hampshire senator.
“It’s a mixed reaction,” Ayotte told POLITICO as she rushed for the exits. “Something both sides feel strongly about.”
In the aftermath of the Senate’s failed vote two weeks ago to expand background checks, New Hampshire has suddenly emerged as ground zero in the national battle over gun control, with Ayotte now stuck at the center of the fight.
Powerful outside groups run by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are bankrolling ads and vowing to dump huge resources into the state to force Ayotte to reverse her opposition to the bill or pay the political consequences. And after two years of projecting a profile as a foreign policy and deficit hawk, her critics in the state have spent the past two weeks trying to rebrand her as: “NRAyotte.