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Gun control: Can Obama use Colorado bully pulpit to accomplish anything?

President Obama is pushing gun control in Denver Wednesday and will do the same in Hartford, Conn., next Monday. It's not clear he can move the public to pressure Congress on gun legislation, but it's worth a try, some say.

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“The flipside, though, is that by speaking, Obama can engage and activate a public that is still firmly in favor of background checks. He just might be able to change the dynamic and make politicians recognize that, politically, they are on the wrong side of the issue.”

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Obama’s original hope for new gun control included a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. And while he insists he hasn’t given up on those aspects, he is now placing more emphasis on expanding background checks for gun buyers – a measure for which public support is still above 80 percent.

But there’s a potential downside to the president’s renewed campaign on gun control: By putting himself out there so publicly on the issue, he risks stirring up and strengthening opposition, Enten adds.

“The president could simply polarize the debate even more,” he writes. “This campaign may make red state Democrats even more squeamish, and will almost certainly make the Republican-controlled House even less likely to move towards more regulation.”

Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer expressed confidence Wednesday that gun legislation would make it through Congress.

"People here in Washington may be getting cold feet," Mr. Pfeiffer told Mike Allen at a Politico “Playbook” breakfast. But, "I think on a whole host of issues Washington tends to be a lagging indicator on public opinion."

He added that he was “still very optimistic” that a bill would reach the president’s desk.

"Are we going to get every single Democrat’s vote? Absolutely not," he said. Pfeiffer acknowledged that Republicans could block the legislation, though they would face “significant consequences,” including potentially losing control of the House.

On Capitol Hill, aides to Senate Republicans complain that Obama could be doing more to reach out to key lawmakers, including Democrats from Republican states who are up for reelection next year, according to press reports. Democrats need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

The White House rejects such criticism.

“We remain engaged in conversations with the Senate and those senators who are interested in forging a bipartisan compromise on measures to reduce gun violence,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

Next week, Obama will have dinner with Senate Republicans, the second such dinner in recent weeks, as part of his “charm offensive” to warm up relations with lawmakers. 


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