Blunt-speaking New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, thought to be eyeing a 2016 run for the Republican presidential nomination, blasted an NRA ad that mentions President Barack Obama's daughters as "reprehensible" and warned it "demeans" the powerful gun-rights group.
"To talk about the president’s children, or any public officer’s children, who have—not by their own choice, but by requirement—to have protection, and to use that somehow to try to make a political point is reprehensible," Christie said.
"The president doesn’t have a choice, and his children don’t have a choice, of whether they’re going to be protected or not," the governor said. "It’s awful to bring public figures' children into the political debate. They don’t deserve to be there."
He added that "for any of us who are public figures, you see that kind of ad, and you cringe, you cringe."
Christie's remarks are unlikely to endear him to those conservatives he already annoyed by praising Obama for the federal government's response to superstorm Sandy. But the NRA ad—which could either be about the Obama daughters' Secret Service protection or the armed guards at their posh D.C. private school—has drawn sharp criticisms for bringing the girls into a debate about gun violence. The NRA has said it's a legitimate criticism of Obama, who has expressed skepticism about the organization's call for armed guards in schools in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
"They’ve got real issues to debate on this topic. Get to the real issues. Don’t be dragging people’s children into this, it’s wrong, and I think it demeans them and it makes them less of a valid, trusted source of information on the real issues," Christie said.
The governor made it clear that, if he decides to run in 2016, his kids won't have much of a say in the decision.
"My children had no choice, realistically, in what I decided to do with my career and what effect that’s had on their lives, in making them somewhat public figures, and making them subject to protection from the executive protection unit," he said. "My kids don’t have a choice about that.
"My children had no choice that I wanted to run for governor. I mean, I pretended that they did, I asked them what they thought. But in the end they had absolutely no choice in whether I ran for governor or not," he said, to chuckles from his audience.
"They knew that, by the way, when I was asking them, which is why they didn’t spend a whole lot of time answering," he quipped.