That claim of a previously undisclosed hobby invited skepticism from some GOP lawmakers, with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) challenging the president to a skeet-shooting contest. Blackburn dismissed the remarks as an attempt to curry favor with gun owners, as the president pushes for an overhaul of the nation’s gun laws.

The White House photo released on Saturday showed Obama firing a rifle while wearing ear muffs and protective glasses.

Axelrod on Monday said the administration was right to respond to critics, but said they should have done so immediately.

“You know Washington … this thing was cascading, conspiracy theories,” he said. “You had to do something, I just think they should have shut it down earlier.”