msnbc | February 22, 2013
>>> so the new grass roots group that has emerge from the president's campaign infrastructure known as organizing for action holds its first national day of action today. the group is holding 100 events in 80 congressional districts and asking supporters to push the president's plan to combat gun violence . its website now features videos like this one of a minnesota man who lost his father in a mass shooting back in september.
>> i was extremely proud when the president announced that gun violence prevention was going to be something that he was going to work to fix. i think the time is now. we've lost enough friends and family members and fellow americans .
>> joining me now is ben le bolt former national press secretary for the obama 2012 campaign. ben , nice to see you. and today's day of action is focused on drumming up support for background checks . is this how we can expect to see organizing for action mobilized to put the pressure on from the outside into washington?
>> that is exactly right. public opinion was already there. 90% of americans support universal background checks . in fact, three kwaurgters erquarters of n ra members support the background checks but we haven't seen a majority number of congress yet commit to pass those. these are targeted events in congressional districts around the country accompanied by advertisements showing them that their support for responsible gun safety measures.
>> so, ben , organizing for action is also launching this major ad buy today. if i have this correct, close to six figures targeting 16 gop lawmakers calling on them to background checks for future gun sales and among those being targeted, senators kelly ayotte , susan collins . as a nonprofit group organizing for action has said it wouldn't be engaging in partisan political activity. is the group walking a finer line by going after just republican lawmakers?
>> i don't think so. this isn't about electoral politics . when organizing for america was formed four years ago they did engage in electoral politics . this is a much narrower mission and that's to pass the president's second term agenda. a key part of that is responsible gun safety legislation. so the entire point of this organization whether you're a republican or a democrat is to hold them accountable and to get them to pass the things that the american people voted for in november. we know that public opinion isn't enough they need to see that ground support in their districts to be able to pull the lever when the vote comes up.
>> do you think you should be going after harry reid as well?
>> well, listen. i think harry reid has been clear that he will bring this for a vote. there's a bipartisan group of members of congress working on this issue, in particular universal background checks . and i don't think that democrats are the issue here. there are a number of republicans including self-proclaimed moderates who have yet to commit to support something that has the support of 90% of americans . columbine may not have happened if we had universal background checks . those guns were purchased at a gun show without checks. this won't solve every issue but it'll go a long way in terms of addressing the problem.
>> great to see you.