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..now about Marco Rubio's NRA gun-rights rating, national press....

@MarcACaputo

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was invited by the National Rifle Association to speak Friday at its annual gala in Indianapolis along with other potential Republican candidates for governor.

No surprise there.

But this sentence in the Associated Press story about the event stands out: "Rubio opposed limiting gun rights after Sandy Hook, but he also saw his NRA grade drop from an A to a B+ amid criticism of his stance on some gun-rights legislation."

No qualms with the first half of that, but the second part is odd. And, national reporters who cover Rubio might want to know that it doesn't tell the full story about Rubio's positions or the NRA's system.

The national NRA only gives out grades to federal candidates in cycle. Wouldn't it be strange if it invited a senator who 1) pressed its agenda at the least of popular times (Sandy Hook) and 2) got docked a grade anyway?

The state NRA did, however, give Rubio a B+ in 2010, despite an otherwise A-rated gun-rights record.

Why?

The NRA's grades are not based on any scientific formulas. They're more subjective, rooted in the feel that lobbyist Marion Hammer has for candidates. And, at the time, she was whole-hog for then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who was running for U.S. Senate against Rubio.

Rubio was out of office, having left as Florida House speaker after the 2008 elections. Before assuming that office, he had an A rating.

But it wasn't until he faced Crist, wasn't in a position of power and was a long-shot candidate that Hammer announced he'd get his A grade dropped. Hammer couldn't point to a clear case of Rubio scuttling gun-rights laws.

But, she said at the time, that she made the deduction because of trouble that cropped up in the Rubio-led House over a measure that allowed employees to keep firearms that are locked in their cars parked on workplace property (it's complicated, so here's some background).

The measure ultimately passed and Rubio voted for it. But it wasn't good enough for Hammer.

 

"He voted when the gun bill was brought to the vote, but we know that what goes on behind the scenes is an entirely different story," Hammer said. She said the NRA ratings -- a big deal in the Republican primary -- are based not just on how politicians vote, but on the totality of what they do or appear to do.

"We watch everything: false claims, lips service, what a member tells other people,'' said Hammer adding that, with Rubio "it's not pretty... we take our issue very seriously."

Same goes with their politics

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