WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) will travel to Richmond, Va., on Friday to discuss the Obama administration's efforts to reduce gun violence, the White House announced Wednesday.
The out-of-town trip is the first by either the president or the vice president since Jan. 16, when President Barack Obama proposed a landmark series of executive and legislative measures to prevent violence, including a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban and a limit on high-capacity gun magazines. The proposals reflected recommendations from a task force chaired by Biden, which was established in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The White House did not offer further details of what Biden plans to do in Richmond, except to say Biden and Kaine would be accompanied by other administration officials. But the destination is notable. Richmond is the home district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), viewed by many as the unofficial leader of the younger, socially conservative members of the House. Many of these members are among the most ardent supporters of gun rights in Congress.
The Richmond expedition is the first in what the administration has indicated will be a series of trips by the president and the vice president to help the Obama administration communicate its goals and strategies directly to the American people. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Obama "believes that not only is it the right strategy to engage the American people -- it is essential as a reflection of why he's in this to begin with, to explain to them his vision and to listen to them about what their hopes are and the direction that they hope the country will move in."
On Thursday, Biden is scheduled to participate in an online conversation about the administration's position on gun control, according to the White House. Biden will answer questions submitted online by participants over the Google+ platform and solicit responses and opinions about the president's proposals.
The White House and Democrats in Congress are gearing up for a vicious battle on Capitol Hill over the proposed gun control measures, including mandated background checks for all firearms sales. The president has emphasized the need for grassroots action and encouraged voters to call their representatives in Congress to express their support for stricter gun laws.
Virginia may prove to be a test of Obama's ability to garner public support for his firearms proposals. Although the state has long been a Republican stronghold, Virginia voters chose Obama twice, in 2008 and 2012, and the state is represented by two Democratic senators. But in the state Legislature, the powerful gun lobby recently helped defeat multiple bills that would have strengthened background checks.
This story has been updated with information about Vice President Biden's scheduled Google+ hangout.