2014-03-06T210446Z_1_CBREA251MK000_RTROPTP_2_OBAMA

Rifle-toting McConnell seeks firepower for re-election campaign

By David Lawder NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tried to bring some firepower to his tough re-election battle on Thursday, brandishing a rifle as he strode onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference. McConnell hoisted the flint-lock muzzle-loading rifle over his head at the gathering of conservative leaders and Republican Party activists and handed it to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a fellow Republican who has said he will retire when his term ends in January 2015 due to health reasons. “This is for you, for your distinguished service,” said McConnell, 72, earning the biggest applause of his brief speech at CPAC. For McConnell, who is the sixth-longest serving current U.S. senator, wielding the rifle amounted to a nod to gun-rights conservatives at a time when he has come under fire on two fronts as he seeks another term in the November 4 elections.

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