Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, an NRA opponent, was not invited to a White House school safety event even though he represents the community targeted.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) supports the teenage survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting, but he has been excluded by Trump from a White House meeting on school safety.
Trump did invite other Florida lawmakers to the event, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has been a vocal proponent of the NRA.
Nelson pointed out that snubbing him showed a lack of seriousness from the White House on school safety. “I don’t know why I wasn’t invited… And of course that doesn’t foster bipartisanship when you’re trying to solve a problem,” he told ABC News.
The snub of Nelson comes after he and Rubio both appeared in a televised town hall meeting with the survivors and families from Parkland.
In that meeting, Nelson called for “common-sense solutions, like getting the assault rifles off the streets” and touted his sponsorship of bills that would limit the sales of war weapons.
By contrast, Rubio refused a plea from a student to stop taking NRA contributions. Rubio has received an “A+” rating from the NRA, while the extremist organization gave Nelson an “F.”
In 2012 campaign materials the NRA falsely accused Nelson of opposing gun rights and cited his support for gun safety legislation as a reason he shouldn’t be re-elected.
Despite the NRA smears, Nelson easily won that election by 13 percent.
After the event, opinion polls have shown Rubio losing support and hitting all time lows, while Nelson’s support has remained unchanged.
Publicly opposing Trump’s patrons at the NRA (they gave $36 million to back him in 2016) may have contributed to the White House snub.
The shooting survivors are calling out the NRA’s extremism, and officials like Nelson are responding. Banning him from a White House event is more likely to backfire than hand another victory to the NRA.