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TV spot by NRA supports Martinez

The National Rifle Association of America is running a 30-minute commercial program in Florida, urging voters to cast ballots for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mel Martinez.

The program, which is airing in media markets across the state, also criticizes Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. It has already run in Jacksonville.

Florida's Senate race between Martinez and Democrat Betty Castor is drawing plenty of national attention. It is one of a handful of states with contested races that could determine whether Republicans maintain their 51-48 Senate majority.

"Because we're just a few seats away from losing the Senate to a gun-hating majority, I'm asking you to vote for Senate candidates who will protect your rights," said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.

Castor spokesman Dan McLaughlin said she is a strong supporter of law-abiding citizens' owning guns for sporting and self-protection, but also supports gun buy-back programs and extending the assault weapons ban.

"I think it's part of the whole GOP strategy to pick issues that polarize people and distort positions," he said.