WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hours before President Barack Obama was due to unveil proposals on Wednesday to prevent mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut, last month, the National Rifle Association released an advertisement that referred to his two school-aged daughters.
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"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a narrator says in the 35-second television and Internet spot. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools? 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."
Obama's two children, who attend private school in Washington, D.C., receive Secret Service protection.
The White House condemned the ad.
"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. 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," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Former Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking earlier on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, said the ad was "disgusting on so many levels."
Gun control activists and gun rights advocates have said in recent days that they could find common ground, particularly over the issue of expanding background checks for potential gun owners.
The NRA ad's tone, however, and the personal nature of the attacks speaks to the cultural gulf that divides both sides.
The clip, called "Stand and Fight," promotes the leading gun lobby's proposal to put armed guards in schools. The idea has been at the center of the NRA's response to the December 14 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in which 20 children and 6 adults were killed.
The ad is airing on the Sportsman Channel, a cable network, but will likely receive a much larger viewership on news stations and through the Internet.
The NRA, which says it has about 4 million members, also announced earlier this week that it would produce a nightly one-hour cable talk show hosted by gun advocate Cam Edwards on the Sportsman Channel.
"I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools," Obama said in a recent interview with NBC's "Meet the Press. "And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem."
In a survey released on Monday, the Pew Research Center found that people favor putting armed guards or police officers in more schools by a two-to-one margin, 64 percent to 32 percent.
(Reporting By Samuel P. Jacobs; Editing by Paul Simao)
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