Jason Kander’s campaign reminds prospective supporters at every opportunity that he once spent several months serving in Afghanistan with the Missouri National Guard.
Now the Democrat, currently Missouri’s secretary of state, is turning that part of his resume against Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt.
A melodramatic TV ad shows a blindfolded Kander assembling an AR-15, a slicker and more accurate cousin to the AK-47, or Kalashnikov, first developed by the Russians and used to arm soldiers and revolutionaries throughout the developing world.
Kander’s spot is shot in stark lighting on what appears to be the gutted floor of an industrial building. The audio plays up the clicking of rifle parts into place for full effect.
Never miss a local story.
“I’m Jason Kander. Sen. Blunt has been attacking me on guns,” the blindfolded candidate says to the camera while piecing the weapon together. “Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle.
“In Afghanistan, I’d volunteer to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs.
“And in the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks, so the terrorists can’t get their hands on one of these. I approve this message” — final, dramatic click of the rifle — “’cause I’d like to see Sen. Blunt do this.”
While Kander is a gun owner, his campaign said the AR-15 used in the commercial belongs to his brother.
The ad hints at several issues that are favorites of the Kander camp. Their guy is a veteran. The opponent is not. Their guy is not the usual Democrat hostile to gun rights, but keeping guns away from terrorists tends to poll well.
Kander’s campaign said the 30-second spot started running statewide on Thursday.
The Blunt campaign issued to following statement in response to Kander’s spot:
“Apparently, Secretary Kander is reacting to an NRA ad highlighting the fact that he was one of the most anti-Second Amendment legislators and was awarded an F for his opposition to Missourians’ Second Amendment rights.”
Here’s that NRA ad:
The Blunt campaign continued that it is “currently highlighting Secretary Kander's liberal stances on ObamaCare and a national energy tax, using his own words about creating a liberal majority.”
It’s not clear how gun assembly would prove particularly valuable in the U.S. Senate. (The campaign, in a press release, suggested: “Jason is the only person in this race who put his life on the line to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans who want to purchase guns.”)
Yet Kander’s not the first politician to toy with weapons on camera for campaign commercials this year in Missouri.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Eric Greitens grins while firing a machine gun in one of his spots.
The Kander campaign also noted a poll released by the Emerson College Polling Society showing him leading Blunt 42 percent to 40 percent. That edge is within the poll’s 3.4 percent margin of error and deviates from most polls showing Blunt in command of the race.