Before the policy fight could begin over the Obama administration’s new proposals on gun regulation, the NRA had drawn intense criticism Wednesday for an ad critical of Obama that mentions his two children.
The ad calls Obama an “elitist hypocrite” because his daughters have Secret Service protection at their school, but the president has not embraced the NRA’s proposal for armed security at all schools.
“Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday. “But to go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.”
Donna Brazile, a former Democratic strategist, called the ad “tasteless, mean-spirited and totally out of bounds.”
“It’s wrong to target in advertising the family of the president of the United States, regardless of the issue,” says John Weaver, a Republican consultant who worked for presidential candidates John McCain and Jon Huntsman. He called the ad “tone deaf” and said the NRA is not in tune with public opinion after the Sandy Hook shootings. “If they’re trying to appeal to the broad cross section of America, or they’re trying to appeal to swing votes in the Congress, this was not their best first step they could have taken. It comes across as unhinged.”
Political talk show host and former congressman Joe Scarborough, a Republican, said the ad, coupled with a new NRA shooting game mobile app, indicates the NRA is “now a fringe organization. … What the NRA once was, it no longer is. This extremism is so frightening and so over the line.”
Like many issue ads, the video is barely appearing on television but was widely reported by news media after being posted online late Tuesday. It appears on the Sportsman Channel during an NRA-produced talk show.
In the ad, which doesn’t show pictures of the Obama girls, a narrator says, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools, when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours.”
In 1999, eight months after the Columbine shootings, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told members at the group’s annual convention that armed guards or police in schools should be a “rare exception.” After the Sandy Hook shootings, LaPierre announced an NRA proposal to put an armed guard in every school.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said the ad is not about the Obama girls. “If anyone thinks we’re talking specifically about someone’s children, they’re missing the point completely,” he said Wednesday. “This isn’t an issue about comparing the president’s kids. This is an issue about school safety and protecting all our children, regardless of tax bracket and how important their parents are. The intent of our ad is to make sure that we point out that there is a double standard that exists.”
The ad includes images of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Vice President Joe Biden – all advocates of an assault weapons ban and other gun-control legislation – and NBC correspondent David Gregory. Obama said in an interview with Gregory that aired Dec. 30 that said he is “skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools.”
A second video on the NRA.org website accuses Gregory of a double standard, citing a report from a conservative website that Gregory’s children attend the same school as the Obama girls.
“NBC News firmly objects to the use of our journalists in any political ad,” spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said in a statement.
Obama announced a plan for combating gun violence Wednesday, appearing with four children who had written to him asking him to stop gun violence. Kathleen McKinley, a conservative blogger, said neither side should be using children to stir emotions. “You can’t be outraged about using Obama’s kids, if you’re not outraged about Obama using other people’s children. Both sides: Stop it,” she said.
Source: USA Today