(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, Pool)

The 2018 midterm elections are less than a month away, and the Democratic Party’s candidate for Senate in Tennessee is struggling to keep the race competitive. Phil Bredesen, the state’s former governor, is down in the polls and he’s trying to gain back some ground. To do that, he must transcend party lines, and part of his plan is to tout an NRA rating he once had.

On Thursday, Bredesen tweeted a photo of him shooting a rifle along with the quote, “I’ve been a lifelong gun owner. As Governor I had an “A” rating from the NRA.”

There’s just one problem for Bredesen. His current rating is nowhere close to an “A.” And he has been called out once before for misleading Tennessee voters.

In late September, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) released a statement calling for Bredesen to retract his ad. The NRA says it’s “false and misleading,” and that Bredesen is citing an “incorrect grade” that “misleads voters by claiming to support the Second Amendment.” Bredesen’s real rating is much, much lower.

Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF and executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, stated, “Phil Bredesen is a ‘D’ rated candidate, and he will not protect our constitutional rights in Washington, D.C. Tennesseans should not be fooled by his false and misleading campaign ads.”

Here’s more from the NRA on Bredesen’s real track record on the Second Amendment and gun control legislation.

Phil Bredesen has earned a “D” rating from the National Rifle Association. He supports criminalizing private firearm transfers between lifelong friends and many family members. He also supports a federal gun database and refuses to oppose burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on ammunition. As governor, Phil Bredesen vetoed protections for concealed carry permit holders and opposed allowing law-abiding Tennesseans to carry a firearm for self-defense in the manner that best suits their needs.

As Bearing Arms has explained in the past, Democratic candidates who run for office in traditionally red states often do all they can to present themselves as moderates on issues like the Second Amendment in order to appeal to independent voters and, perhaps, Republican voters that are unsure of their candidate.

This strategy is a challenge for Democrats like Bredesen as they can’t afford to alienate much-needed swing voters with their gun control rhetoric, but they also can’t afford to alienate their progressive base that craves gun control by portraying themselves as sympathetic to the gun owning community.

According to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Republican Senate candidate and current Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn has a five and a half point lead over Bredesen, but a recent NY Times/Siena poll showing Blackburn has a 14 point lead, a definite outlier at the moment, contributes to that significant margin.

The last time The Volunteer State elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate was in the early 1990s.