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WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama began airing a campaign ad Monday for his Senate bid that draws on dramatic audio from the shooting attack that badly wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to tout Brooks' support for gun rights.
A member of the House GOP baseball team, Brooks was on the field the morning a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers as they practiced in a Washington, D.C., suburb.
The television ad opens with the sound of rapid gunfire, followed by shouts of "Stay down!" that were captured on a bystander's video. As sirens are heard wailing, a caption appears: "On June 14: A Bernie Sanders supporter opened fire on Republican Congressmen. Mo Brooks gives his belt as a tourniquet to help the wounded."
The ad shows Brooks, while still at the baseball field, answering a reporter's question whether the violence changed his mind about gun control. The caption on the ad called that a question from the "liberal media."
"The Second Amendment right to bear arm is to help ensure we always have a republic so no, I'm not changing my position on any of the rights that we enjoy as Americans," Brooks responds in the campaign ad.
Chris Bond, a spokesman for Scalise, said "some people have different ideas about what's appropriate" when asked about the use of shooting audio in a political ad.
Scalise was critically wounded and four others also were hurt in the shooting. U.S. Capitol Police and other officers returned fire, killing the gunman. Scalise, a Louisiana congressman, is now in fair condition after several surgeries. A bullet struck him in the hip, shattering bone and damaging internal organs. The rifle-wielding attacker had nursed grievances against President Donald Trump and the GOP.
Brooks is running in a crowded Republican primary to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' former Senate seat. Contenders in the competitive race, which is expected to lead to a runoff, include Sen. Luther Strange, the appointee who replaced Sessions, and another top rival, Roy Moore.
The shooting raised the national profile of Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a grouping of the most conservative GOP members of Congress. After the attack, Brooks conducted a round of national media interviews. Police later told the congressman he was on a list of six names that was carried by the gunman.
Brooks told The Associated Press on Monday that Strange, who has highlighted his own Second Amendment support in ads, had made support for gun rights an issue in the race. Brooks said he thought the best response would be the words he uttered shortly after being shot at by a gunman.
Brooks said the shots and shouts to stay low — heard in the audio — were close to where he was standing on the ballfield.
"It shows my commitment to the right to bear arms," Brooks said and that he will "walk the walk" and not just talk.