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Joe Scarborough: New NRA ad is 'race bait'

Is the National Rifle Association’s new attack ad on Sen. Joe Manchin racially charged?

Is the National Rifle Association’s new attack ad on Sen. Joe Manchin racially charged?

“Listen, I have been critical of those on the left when they have used race. And it's happened—it happens every election, to race bait,” Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said. “I'm going to be critical when people on my side do the same thing. This is an example. Look at the hands. Look at the side of the face.”

The NRA’s latest ad targets the West Virginia Democrat for co-sponsoring legislation expanding background checks.

“It’s so obvious,” Scarborough said. “Look at his hands. It looks like he is a coal miner from West Virginia. Look how dark they made his hands.”

Scarborough accused the makers of the 30-second ad of shading the president to make him look darker in color on-screen. The NRA’s leadership is “taking this organization so far away from what it’s supposed to be,” he said.

Manchin agreed: “The NRA leadership has lost its way and is more concerned about political power than gun rights and gun safety,” the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement. “The Washington NRA could spend one hundred million dollars on ads against me; it still won’t make what they say true.”

In the six months after the Newton, Conn. shootings that took the lives of 26 children and teachers, the NRA and gun control advocacy groups like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns­ have poured millions of dollars in lobbying and advertisements.

Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist downplayed the potential of damaging political repercussions for Manchin in his home state.

“Inside West Virginia, they know Joe Manchin­—he was their governor,” Geist said, adding that Manchin touted an A-plus rating from the NRA last election cycle. “They know that he’s for guns.”

A right-leaning poll found that Manchin’s approval rating dropped seven points last month following his support of background checks. But despite that drop, the same poll estimated that 63% of West Virginians support the Democratic senator.

Elsewhere, the NRA sent mailers to all North Dakotan members earlier this month to thank Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp for voting against background checks in the Senate in April.