(Reuters) - New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie harshly criticized the National Rifle Association on Thursday for referring to U.S. President Barack Obama's children in an ad that advocates putting armed guards in schools, calling it "reprehensible" and "wrong."
"I think it's awful to bring public figures' children into the political debate," Christie said at a press conference in Trenton, New Jersey.
The NRA ad, posted online on Tuesday, calls Obama a "hypocrite" for expressing skepticism over a NRA proposal to put more armed guards in schools following the shooting in a Newtown, Connecticut, school last month that killed 26 people, 20 of them six and seven years old.
"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" a narrator asks in the ad, pointing out that Obama's two daughters have Secret Service protection.
"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, to use that somehow to try to make a political point is reprehensible,"
"I think any of us who are public figures, you see that ad and you cringe," said
Christie, who is considered a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, said the ad undermines the NRA's credibility at time when gun control has moved to the center of the political debate.
"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 that confront this debate," he said.
(Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Jackie Frank)