Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., kicked off the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday morning by walking on stage carrying a rifle.
McConnell waved it around and handed it over to Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. This moment was the only time the audience cheered for McConnell during his five minutes on stage, according to the National Journal.
The gun was reportedly a parting gift from the GOP to Coburn, who will be leaving the Senate due to health issues at the end of his term.
"Liberals absolutely hate it when Tom Coburn steps onto the Senate floor," McConnell told the crowd. "He’s one of the smartest, most principled, most decent men I’ve ever served with. He reminds all of us every day of why it is we decided to run for office in the first place."
The Senate Minority Leader and five-term senator is facing a Tea Party challenger in his home state later this year.
"If I'm given an opportunity to lead the U.S. Senate next year, I will not let you down," he said.
The Democrat challenging McConnell’s seat, Alison Lundergan Grimes, blasted the move on Twitter.
— Alison L. Grimes (@AlisonForKY) March 6, 2014
The move may not have gone over with voters the way McConnell might have hoped.
What, does he think he's Chuck Heston? I want to hear him say, "Get your hands off me, you damn dirty apes!" http://t.co/l0dR4X4b9u
— Canarius Domesticus (@CDomesticus) March 6, 2014
Is he threatening Americans?:Mitch McConnell Tries To Save His Senate Seat By Waving a Rifle Around at CPAC http://t.co/E3rF3KoAzj
— Ashley Barnett Smith (@Ashlybsmith) March 6, 2014