NRA begins pushback with Web ad criticizing Obama
In a sharp pushback against any new gun regulations, the National Rifle Association posted a Web video that labels President Barack Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for allowing his daughters to be protected by armed guards while not embracing a proposal for armed guards at all schools.
"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a male narrator asks in the video. "Then why is he skeptical of putting armed security in schools, when his kids are protected by armed guards in their school?"
The spot, posted even before Obama unveiled his gun policy proposals on Wednesday, drew an indignant response from the White House.
"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."
The group's confrontational video bore the hallmarks of a conventional political attack ad. It uses grainy, unflattering visuals of Obama, has a grim-sounding narrator and ominous music. It also invokes a seemingly unrelated issue, Obama's insistence on a tax increase for the wealthiest Americans, as it argues that Obama is hypocritical because he's expressed skepticism about putting armed guards in schools in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The ad equates protection for Obama's daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, with a proposal by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre to put armed guards in schools after the Newtown shootings. LaPierre suggested that would have prevented the shootings that ended 26 lives.
"Protection for their kids," the narrator says, "and gun-free zones for ours."
The video did not specifically mention Secret Service protection Obama and his family receive. Sidwell Friends School, an exclusive private school in Northwest Washington that Obama's daughters attend, also has its own security force.
The video is part of what's expected to be an aggressive NRA lobbying push to thwart new gun regulations. The group has been raising money in response to the outcry for new gun laws. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that a fresh fundraising appeal, circulated this week by LaPierre to the group's membership, calls the current debate "the fight of the century."
"I warned you this day was coming and now it's here," LaPierre wrote. "This is the fight of the century and I need you on board with NRA now more than ever. My strength, and the strength of our entire NRA organization, comes from you and your strong commitment to our membership. I need you in our corner TODAY."
The group's formal response to Obama's announcement of legislative proposals and executive actions on Wednesday was more muted but still skeptical. "The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law," the statement said.
"We look forward to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America's most valuable asset - our children," it said. "Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."
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