A fight over firearm laws continued into its third day Sunday as former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) revisited the issue on the morning talk shows.
Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sanders for a 2005 vote protecting gun dealers and manufacturers from legal liability. Though Sanders has said in recent months that he would consider revisiting aspects of the legislation, Clinton accused him Sunday of "refusing to say that he would vote to repeal" it.
"You know, President Obama and I and Sen. Sanders were all in the Senate at the same time," she told CBS' John Dickerson on "Face the Nation." "Two of us voted against what the NRA says was the most important piece of legislation in 20 years for the gun lobby. Senator Sanders voted with them."
Speaking Sunday on ABC's "This Week," Sanders referred to the immunity law as "complicated" and said that there were "aspects of it ... that were wrong" and that he would like to "revise." But, he told host George Stephanopoulous, "There are parts of it that made sense to me."
"Look, George, if you have a small gun shop owner in northern Vermont who sells a gun legally to somebody and then, you know, something happens to that guy — he goes nuts or something and he kills somebody — should the gun shop owner be held liable?" Sanders asked.
As the two leading Democratic presidential candidates argued over the matter, a pair of polls released Sunday showed them statistically tied in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote next month. In Iowa, Clinton leads Sanders just 48 to 45 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal, NBC News and Marist. Those same organizations found Sanders leading Clinton 50 to 46 percent in New Hampshire.
The polls, which are among the first conducted in the new year, suggest that Sanders is catching up to Clinton in Iowa and that Clinton is catching up to Sanders in New Hampshire. Both spreads are within the polls' respective margins of error.
The Sanders campaign was quick to point out another key finding in the polls: In hypothetical match-ups against leading Republican candidates, the Vermont senator fares better than the former secretary of state. Sanders leads Republican businessman Donald Trump by 13 percentage points in Iowa and 19 points in New Hampshire, while Clinton leads Trump by just 8 points in Iowa and 1 point in New Hampshire.
While Sanders would defeat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in hypothetical New Hampshire match-ups, the polls found, Clinton would lose to both candidates.
In his ABC interview Sunday morning, Sanders pointed to the polls as yet more evidence that he would be a stronger candidate in the general election than Clinton.
“If people are concerned about electability, and Democrats should be very concerned, because we certainly do not want to see some right-wing extremist in the White House, I think Bernie Sanders is the candidate,” he said. “We're doing much better with independents. We even draw a little bit better with Republicans.”
But the Clinton campaign is hardly ready to concede the point. Late last week, it launched a new television advertisement in Iowa and New Hampshire featuring unflattering footage of the leading Republican candidates and asking, “Who’s the one candidate who can stop them? Hillary Clinton: Tested and tough. To stop them, stand with her.”