The National Rifle Association in its first TV ad supporting Donald Trump for president blasted Hillary Clinton for her perceived error in judgement following the 2012 embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Featured in the 30-second spot, which airs in key battleground states this week, is Mark “Oz” Geist, a former U.S. Marine of 12 years who started doing contract security work in Iraq in 2004 after several years in law enforcement and private investigations.
The video opens on Geist, as he speaks directly to the camera.
“A lot of people say they’re not going to vote this November because their candidate didn’t win. Well, I know some other people who won’t be voting this year either,” Geist said while walking through a nondescript cemetery among blank gravestones. “Hillary as president? No thanks. I served in Benghazi. My friends didn’t make it. They did their part. Do yours.”
The words “Stop. Hillary. Now.” then appear on the screen, along with “Trump 2016” next to the NRA logo.
The ad harkens back to the NRA’s annual meeting in May, when Guns.com, in attendance, pointed out the group’s leadership forum included videos about Benghazi and Clinton’s alleged malfeasance while serving as secretary of state. But the group also used the theme of unifying behind Trump and called on supporters to not neglect their duty to vote because fallen service members gave up their lives for the right.
“If your preferred candidate dropped out of the race, it’s time to get over it. We all know people who won’t be voting,” said top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox, eliciting applause from the crowd during the convention in Louisville, Kentucky. “Here’s one. Adam Brown, a hero who gave his life so we can live in a free country. We owe it to Adam and people like him to get off our rear ends and get in the arena.”
Brown was a Navy SEAL chief who was killed during an assault in Komar Province, Afghanistan in March 2010. He was a member of SEAL Team 6, which would go on a year later to reportedly kill Osama bin Laden, head of radical Islamic group al-Qaida.
The NRA ad garnered scrutiny from liberal media, including the New York Daily News, which called out the gun lobby group for violating government rules in producing the political ad at a veterans cemetery.
Federal government officials dismissed the ad, stating that the NRA never requested to film on the solemn, hallowed ground — and would have been rejected if it had.
“Partisan activities are prohibited on national cemetery grounds as they are not compatible with preserving the dignity and tranquility of the national cemeteries as national shrines,” the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration, which maintains 134 national cemeteries, told The News in a statement.
The Army told ABC News the video was filmed outside of a national cemetery, but it wasn’t filmed at the Arlington National Cemetery, located about a 30-minute drive from NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, though the location looks like a national cemetery.
The federal organization in charge of managing the 131 of the country’s 147 national cemeteries said it did not receive a request from the NRA to film on its grounds.
“To date, the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs has not received or approved any filming requests of this nature,” VA spokesman James Hutton told ABC News. “NCA did not receive a request from the NRA to film the subject advertisement. If we had received such a request, we would have denied it based on the partisan content.
Guns.com also noticed Geist was given the designation of “U.S. Marine (Retired),” which wouldn’t apply unless he did, in fact, retire. Attempts to reach the NRA and Geist through his public speaking agency for comment went unanswered.
The NRA has reportedly spent $2 million to run its ad in Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia, USA Today reported.
The ad comes the same week House Republicans wrapped up a two-year investigation into the Benghazi attacks. The Select Committee on Benghazi released an 800-page report Tuesday, which outlined the terrorist attack that occurred on the 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“When the Select Committee was formed, I promised to conduct this investigation in a manner worthy of the American people’s respect, and worthy of the memory of those who died. That is exactly what my colleagues and I have done,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, committee chairman.