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Rob Portman announcing his son is gay.
Polls show I should not have voted against background checks, so,
 really, believe me, I didn't not vote against them.
First, it was Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire who tried to obscure her vote against background checks for private gun sales. Then Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona did so. Now, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has done it, too.

What these Republicans have in common is their April 17 vote against the watered-down Manchin-Toomey proposal that would have expanded background checks to private sales of guns over the internet or advertised in any venue. They have something else in common as well. As a consequence of running into a firestorm of opposition from their constituents in the wake of that nay vote, accompanied by plunges in their public approval rating, they're all pretending they actually supported background checks.

Portman tried to obscure his true stance in a reply to a letter from Peter Schulman objecting to his vote. Schulman, an assistant professor of history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the reply came about 11 days after he sent the letter:

“[T]he Grassley amendment I supported would have reauthorized and improved the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” Portman wrote to Schulman. [...]

“He’s absolutely obfuscating his position,” Schulman told TPM by phone on Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s completely misleading. And it seems designed to mislead.”

Indeed, the amendment introduced by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas that Portman (and Ayotte and Flake) voted for would not have expanded background checks. Instead, it would have weakened the existing system by making it easier for dangerously mentally ill people to obtain guns, reducing the categories of people now covered by background checks and narrowing other categories. Grassley-Cruz would also have made it tougher for law enforcement to go after gun traffickers under existing law.

Portman, like Ayotte and Flake, has good reason to want to muddy the waters regarding his vote. A poll shows his approval ratings fell 18 points after he opposed Manchin-Toomey. Not only was he gutless when he voted, he's proving to be gutless in explaining how he voted. Heckuva job, Senator.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:13 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), Shut Down the NRA, and Daily Kos.

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