In this Jan. 25, 2013, photo, Vice President Joe Biden gestures during a round table discussion on gun violence at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. AP Photo/Steve Helber
In the middle of a raging battle in the state House Friday over gun-control legislation, Vice President Joe Biden called four Democrats to chat about the proposed bills and their importance to the national debate.
Biden called House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, of Denver; Tony Exum of Colorado Springs, Dominick Moreno of Commerce City and Mike McLachlan of Durango.
Exum said Biden expressed his support for the bills and said it would be an important message to the nation if a western state took the lead on the legislation.
House Republican Leader Mark Waller accused Biden of targeting freshmen lawmakers in tough districts.
“There were Democrats, as we talked to them, they were on the fence about how they were going to vote on these bills today,” Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said. “When the vice president called them and told them how to vote, then they obviously were told what to do.”
House Democratic Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst disagreed with that statement.
“There were enough Democrats to vote yes when we started the day today,” Hullinghorst said. “The call was made to congratulate them and all of us on a vigorous debate and on addressing this issue.”
Hullinghorst said she knows her members and knows there weren’t any Democrats on the fence.
The debate Friday lasted more than 12 hours on four gun-control bills that included a limit on magazine capacity and universal background checks.
There are 37 Democrats and 28 Republicans in the House. It would have taken four voters swapping to tie the vote.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino said “The states are the microcosm, the incubators for democracy.”