Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes invited Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenators roll out changes to criminal justice bill Sanders is most popular senator, according to constituent poll Senate Dems block spending bill over Iran amendment — again MORE (R-Ky.) to go shooting with her on Friday, after the Senate minority leader launched a coalition of gun rights supporters.
McConnell, who faces an election challenge from Lundergan Grimes, appeared at an event Friday afternoon launching the "Sportsmen for Team Mitch" coalition, where the NRA presented him a "Defender of Freedom" award.
But Lundergan Grimes touted her own support for gun rights in a statement that challenged McConnell to hit the gun range with her and included a photo of her shooting a rifle. The invitation and the picture made waves online.
“As an NRA member, my strong support for the Second Amendment is unquestioned. I am proud of Kentucky's long-held gun ownership, sporting and hunting traditions," she said.
"In the Senate, I will protect my fellow Kentuckians' right to keep and bear arms. Whenever he's not busy pandering to Washington lobbyists, I welcome Senator McConnell to come shoot with me at the range any day,” she added.
In the photo, Lundergan Grimes appears in the backyard of her family's farm in Maysville, Ky., shooting a rifle without eye or ear protection. That drew criticism from Republicans on Twitter, who suggested the picture was evidence she's out of touch with Kentuckians.
Conservative commentator Dana Loesch tweeted a photo of herself shooting with the caption "Hi @AlisonForKy ! Eye and ear protection. This is how it's done."
Republican strategist Rick Wilson tweeted at her "Even with that little 10/22, you're going to want eye and ear protection. Your DC campaign people probs don't know that."
And National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring called the photo an "unforced failure," a common refrain from Republicans who have accused Lundergan Grimes of being unprepared for the rigors of a Senate campaign.
But Democrats on Twitter pointed to photos of both former Presidents Bush in which they're shooting guns without eye and ear protection. And Lundergan Grimes's campaign dismissed the critics, noting that the candidate shoots with her family frequently.
McConnell has not responded to her invitation.