Democrats are using the growing feud between new guard Sen. Rand Paul and old bull Sen. John McCain to push the GOP into shelving its plan to filibuster any gun control legislation in the Senate.

Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine on Tuesday, for example, sent an email to his supporters quoting McCain's complaint that the filibuster suggests that Republicans are afraid of debating issues like an assault weapons ban and universal background checks in the chamber this week.

"Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and 13 other senators have promised to filibuster any discussion of gun safety rules. Instead of just voting against restrictions they don't like, they are trying to block any vote whatsoever," wrote Kaine. "Their plan inspired Republican Senator John McCain to say the following: 'The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand. What are we afraid of?' "

Paul's recent filibuster over the administration's drone program drew a similar sharp retort from Arizona's McCain and made public a division within the GOP that Democrats have seized on to portray filibuster supporters as out of touch with the GOP mainstream.

Polls, however, found support for Paul from conservatives and Republicans while McCain suffered a hit in his approval ratings.