Let’s say you’re running underdog Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley’s Super PAC. What’s the first order of business?

Could it be: Convincing voters he has a shot? Trying to chip away at the Hillary Clinton colossus?

Well, in the mixed-up world of presidential politics, where it’s sometimes not entirely clear whether candidates are running for president or jockeying for the vice presidential nod, O’Malley’s Super PAC on Thursday released an ad slamming not Hillary Clinton — but fellow underdog Bernie Sanders.

The ad, released by O’Malley’s Super PAC, Generation Forward, is one of the first ads released on behalf of O’Malley’s campaign. It labels Sanders “no progressive when it comes to guns.” The commercial flashes headlines from online news articles calling Sanders a “gun nut.” In a message about the anti-Sanders ad, the pro-O’Malley PAC explained on Facebook, “You can’t claim to soak the fat boys and exempt the profiteers in the gun industry.”

As the Boston Globe recently reported, Sanders “has amassed a mixed record” on gun issues, voting against the landmark Brady gun control bill but voting in support of a ban on assault weapons in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting. As the Globe noted, activists have found that Sanders has shown little interest in gun-related legislation.

Watch the commercial here.

The O’Malley attack on Bernie appeared online only shortly after Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a close ally of the Hillary Clinton campaign, appeared on MSNBC this morning to bash Sanders. “I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist,” McCaskill said on MSNBC.

The Generation Forward Super PAC is led by two O’Malley supporters, Damian O’Doherty and Ron Boehmer. Federal Communications Commission records reveal that Generation Forward contracts with Fortune Media, a Democratic ad-buying firm that has previously worked on behalf of Emily’s List.

During the 2008 presidential election, O’Malley co-chaired the business-friendly Democratic Leadership Council, authoring an opinion column with Harold Ford to persuade his party not to drift too far to the left. He also served as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Though he kicked off his campaign with a pledge to take on Wall Street, the Maryland politician rarely embraced economic populism during his time as mayor of Baltimore or as governor.

The ad today left observers perplexed about what O’Malley is really trying to accomplish.

Josh Kraushaar, politics editor at National Journal, noted that the new ad today shows that O’Malley is “hitting Bernie Sanders more than Hillary Clinton.”

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty