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NRA head: Controversial ad 'wasn't about the president's daughters'

Jan. 17, 2013 at 8:44 AM ET

The president of the National Rifle Association defended his organization’s use of President Obama’s children in a web ad about armed guards at schools, insisting Thursday “it wasn’t about the president’s daughters.”

The video is aimed at anyone critical of the NRA and skeptical of the organization’s proposal of how to make schools safer, David Keene told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

“We believe that every parent ought to be able to be comfortable, knowing that their children are safe, and if that requires armed security, it’s as good for the working man as it is for the president,” he said.

Read: NRA ad brings Obama kids into gun debate; White House fights back

In the 35-second spot, Obama is called an “elite hypocrite” for dismissing the idea of adding armed guards to schools while accepting Secret Service protection for his girls.

“Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” the narrator asks at the beginning of the spot. “Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?”

The White House called the ad “repugnant and cowardly” and criticized the organization for using the president’s children as “pawns in a political fight.”

Advertising executive Donny Deutsch called the ad “disgusting” for inserting the president’s children into the issue.

“This is a disgusting, vulgar ad,” he said. 

Watch: Obama prepares for fight over gun proposals

The video also features a picture of NBC “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, whom Keene grouped as among those “who have attacked the NRA and the very idea of school security.”

NBC News released a statement Wednesday, saying it “firmly objects to the use of our journalists in any political ad. David Gregory's role as moderator of 'Meet the Press' is to ask tough questions of guests representing all sides of the issues."

Also Wednesday, Obama unveiled an ambitious gun control program that includes numerous congressional programs and 23 executive actions. Among them: mandatory background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun, including individuals who purchase weapons from a private seller.

Keene expressed concern over how such a rule would be fairly enforced.

“It becomes more problematic when you talk about the farmer who buys a new shotgun and sells his old one to his neighbor over the fence, or the father who sells to the son or all those kinds of things,” Keene said Thursday. “The laws need to be certain. And they need to fair and fairly enforced.”

Another proposal Keene criticized was the effort to limit the size of ammunition magazines.

“This all sort of makes you feel good, but in fact it doesn’t do much,” Keene said. “If you are out there, and if you’re crazy, and if you’ve got a gun like this and if you’re going to shoot people with it, it takes a second or so to change the magazine.”

More: Stop gun violence, kids ask President Obama in handwritten letters 

Obama unveils sweeping gun control proposals

Obama appeals for ordinary Americans to take on gun lobby 

Video: Teachers flock to gun training classes   

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