CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- None of the members of the national television crew with Sen. Joe Manchin had ever fired a gun.
So instead of just shooting extra footage of the Democrat expending a few rounds, the Fox News team joined Manchin Thursday morning in firing away.
"They did good. The girls about showed us all up," Manchin said later that afternoon, after an interview with the station.
If people outside of West Virginia know about Manchin, there's a good chance it's because of guns.
They might recall a campaign advertisement from 2010, when a rifle-toting Manchin blasted a hole through a piece of legislation.
But West Virginia's junior senator gained national attention more recently for his proposal in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
The measure called for background checks on people purchasing guns online or at trade shows.
It failed by a handful of votes in the Senate, but a $200,000 advertising battle between the National Rifle Association and Manchin helped keep the idea front and center on the country's political landscape.
That attention took the measure and debate to "a whole other dimension," Manchin said.
"It's funny, when you evaluate it on that level, there are so few people I guess that are going based on the facts and their convictions, of trying to do and improve things," Manchin said.
"(They) worry more about how it will affect them personally or their political stature or their political standing in the party.
"And I've never put that ahead of what I was there to do. I think that's what's kind of elevated it. It's an anomaly right now. I don't think it used to always be that way."
Manchin, 66, is still relatively new in Washington, D.C. Heading to Capitol Hill in late 2010 for the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd's unexpired term, Manchin won his first election to a full Senate term last fall.
Thursday he downplayed the idea that the political cover of no imminent campaign made it easier for him to introduce the background check bill this year. The only thing that matters is whether he can explain his decisions "back home."
He brought those explanations to crowd of local politicians, law enforcement officers, lobbyists and others during Thursday's lunch meeting at the Fifth Quarter restaurant in Charleston.
The group included Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey, Sheriff Johnny Rutherford, Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring, state AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue and others.
The senator bounced from topic to topic. The nation's finances are his key focus, but he's very committed to fixing the national health care law and to helping veterans find jobs, he told the room.
Oft-used phrases found their way into the conversation: Manchin described an idea as a "commonsense" measure. The concept of "guilt by association" has transformed into "guilt by conversation," Manchin proclaimed, his frequent explanation for difficulty in working across the aisle.
A man who said he's a member of the AARP told the senator he's fed up with the bickering in Washington.