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Biden says Illinois race 'sent a message' on gun control

Vice President Joe Biden argued Wednesday that Democratic voters in yesterday’s special Democratic congressional primary in Illinois illustrated that there is a larger national mandate for tighter gun restrictions.

“The voters sent a message last night, not just to the NRA but to the politicians all around the country by electing Robin Kelly, who stood up and stood strong for gun safety totally consistent with our Second Amendment rights,” Biden told a gathering of state attorneys general in Washington D.C.

Kelly, a former state representative, won decisively over U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat who at one time had been favored to win the Chicago-area seat. But Halvorson faced over two million dollars’ worth of negative advertising funded by pro-gun control billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attacked her for an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.

The congressional district, which is heavily Democratic, includes some of Chicago's South Side neighborhoods as well as suburban areas south of the city.

Biden said Kelly’s decisive victory sent an “unequivocal signal” in the first major electoral contest since the shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

“The message is there will be a moral price as well as a political price to be paid for inaction,” he said.

After meeting with Biden today, Bloomberg said he believed the race showed that support for stricter gun laws won't hurt candidates.

Bloomberg said the White House should reach out to members of Congress to explain "why their vote could make a difference and why all the polls show that they will not be disadvantaged the next time they run."

"Quite the contrary," he added. "They will have this as a feather in their cap and be able to say next time they run ‘when the going was tough, I stood up for you.’”


NBC's Kasie Hunt contributed to this report.