Count the National Rifle Association among the very many folks in Washington wondering where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will land in the current gun debate.
At a breakfast with reporters this morning, NRA President David Keene noted Reid’s sometimes complicated relationship with the powerful gun-rights organization. Keene said the NRA has had a “relatively friendly relationship with the senator over time,” but added that the pressure he’s under from President Obama and other prominent Democrats to spearhead gun-control measures may push him in another direction.
“He’s under incredible pressure right now because he’s got — as any member of Congress or senator does — he’s got his own beliefs, he’s got the views and the demands of his constituents on the one hand, the pressure he faces as a party leader and from the president on the other,” Keene said at the breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
“So where Harry Reid ends up in this debate is anybody’s guess, and I think that’s one of the guessing games that’s going around Washington now,” Keene added.
As Keene noted, the NRA has endorsed Reid in the past but chose to stay neutral during his bitter 2010 reelection fight, against a tea party favorite whom Reid narrowly beat out. The NRA has signaled strong resistance to virtually any new gun-control measures being discussed by the president and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
Reid in the past has resisted efforts to revive the so-called assault weapons ban. This week, he declined to endorse a bill being advanced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to bring back the ban; Feinstein’s measure does enjoy the support of Reid’s top two deputies, Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer.
“We’re going to have votes on all kinds of issues dealing with guns, and I think everyone would be well advised to read the legislation before they determine how they’re going to vote,” Reid said Tuesday.
Reid may be the most prominent Democrat from a gun-friendly state caught in an uncomfortable position. Others, like Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, will face similar scrutiny.
Reid will be George Stephanopoulos’ exclusive guest Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”