The White House today rebuffed a National Rifle Association ad labeling President Barack Obama an “elitist hypocrite” on the issue of gun control, his chief spokesman calling the ad “repugnant and cowardly.”
Hours before the president announced an agenda for curbing gun violence following last month’s shooting at a Connecticut school, the NRA criticized Obama’s attempts to limit access to assault weapons because his own children have armed protection.
“Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “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.”
Obama proposed executive actions and legislative proposals at a White House appearance with Vice President Joe Biden, who developed the plan in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, which killed 20 first-graders and six educators on Dec. 14. Following those shootings, the NRA proposed armed guards for all the nation’s schools.
Without identifying Obama’s two young daughters by name or the Washington school they attend, the narrator of an NRA video on its website asks: “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 schools?”
The president’s family is protected at the White House and in travels outside their home by the U.S. Secret Service.
David Keene, president of the NRA, said in an interview on CNN later today that the ad isn’t alluding to Obama’s Secret Service protection -- instead, it is speaking of the school’s own security. The NRA says all schools should be guarded.
The NRA ad says that Obama has demanded that wealthier Americans pay a higher share of taxes, yet “he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.”
Before the White House responded, Robert Gibbs, a former press secretary for the president, called the ad “disgusting” in an appearance today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Among the proposals that the White House made today are a ban on military-style assault weapons such as the semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown shootings.
The NRA ad concludes with images of those and other weapons. It closes with a comment about the first family: “Protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours.”
It’s part of a public relations campaign by the national organization for gun owners and manufacturers, traditionally the most powerful lobbying force against gun control in Washington.
The group has announced it’s working with the Sportsman Channel cable station to bring the NRA’s talk-radio show, NRANEWS Cam & Co., to television every weekday live. It “will be the one and only news-talk series on television that can authoritatively address the issues that are vital to America’s more than 80 million sportsmen and sportswomen,” the NRA says.