White House Scolds NRA for Ad Challenging Obama Over Children

Photograph by Barrett Stinson/The Grand Island Independent/AP Photo

One of two police officers carrying an AR-15 assault rifle stands guard at the west entrance of Grand Island Senior High School, in Grand Island, Neb.

Updated at 12:10 pm EST

The White House scolded the National Rifle Association today for an ad calling the president an “elitist hypocrite” on gun control because his children have armed protection.

Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, called the ad “repugnant and cowardly.”

“Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” 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.”

On the day that President Barack Obama announced a sweeping agenda of 23 executive actions and more congressional proposals to curb gun violence, the NRA, which is proposing armed guards at the nation’s schools as an alternative, has released a video-ad calling the president an “elitist hypocrite” because his children are protected.

The narrator of the ad, appearing at the NRA Web-site and on the Sportsman Channel, does not identify the president’s two school-age daughters by name, but does ask this:

“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?”

Obama’s children attend the private Sidwell Friends school in Washington, yet it is not the school that provides their primary protection. The family of the president is protected by the Secret Service. The girls have been spotted in such venues as trick or treating in Washington escorted by tall men with radios in their ears.

The ad, which closes with images of the assault weapons that the president proposed banning today at an announcement of his agenda at a White House annex, contends that Obama demands that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, yet “he’s just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security.”

In the aftermath of the shootings of 20 children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre proposed armed guarding of all the nation’s schools. The only way to “stop bad guys with guns,” he said, is “good guys with guns.”

The NRA has suffered a certain loss of public approval in national opinion polls during the past month, while support for an assault weapons ban has increased in those surveys. The shooter in Newtown used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle with oversized ammo clips to riddle with bullets the first graders slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launch a campaign for gun control today, the gun lobby is mounting its own media assault: Sportsman Channel and the NRA “are bringing the NRA’s popular talk-radio show NRANEWS Cam & Co. to television every weekday live from 5-6pm ET beginning Jan. 15,” the organization announced. “Hosted by Cam Edwards, and airing live from the NRANEWS Studios in Washington, D.C., NRANEWS Cam & Co. 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. ”

Like the assault weapons ban.

The weapons pictured in the NRA ad about the president’s children, closing with: `Protection for their kids, and gun-free zones for ours.”

Robert Gibbs, a former press secretary for Obama, called the NRA ad “disgusting” today in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” It is the sort of ad, he said, that political activists make in the middle of the night after some excessive drinking. Usually, he said, people arrive in the morning with a more sober eye and censor it.

Roger Runningen and Margaret Talev contributed. 

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