New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday condemned the new National Rifle Association Web ad that invokes President Obama's children, the latest move by the prominent Republican to sharply criticize a group closely aligned with his own party.
"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 I think is reprehensible," Christie, a potential 2016 White House contender, said at a Thursday news conference. "My children had no choice that I wanted to run for governor. 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. And they knew that, by the way, when I was asking them, which is why they didn't spend a whole lot of time answering."
"But the effects on their lives are significant," he continued. "And they're a full couple of steps down from the effect that it would have if, you know, when your father's president of the United States, and the security concerns that go along with that."
Earlier this month, Christie criticized House Speaker John Boehner by name when he blamed the Ohio Republican for delaying House consideration of a Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
"All I can tell you is this was the speaker’s decision, his alone," Christie said at the time.
Then, as on Thursday, he offered a vocal defense of Obama.
"To somehow feel like ... as it said in the commercial, 'Well, the president has armed bodyguards for his children, but he doesn't think it's good enough for your children?'" Christie said of the NRA ad. "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."
Toward the end of his riff on the NRA ad, he also argued that the spot "demeans" the group and "makes them less of a valid, trusted source of information on the real issues that confront this debate."
Christie has previously expressed support for gun-control measures, including an assault weapons ban. In 2011, after Christie's office failed to return an NRA survey, the group told the Wall Street Journal that "we rate him as a question mark."
Christie also addressed the gun debate Wednesday, saying that "if all we do is talk about gun control, then we're missing the point."
“What I’d like to have a real conversation about, and I intend to start very, very soon, is not just about gun control. That’s part of it. But it’s also about violence control," he said.
Staff writer Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.