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WATCH: Is the NRA's new anti-Obama ad racist?

"It just seems patently obvious what they're doing," says Joe Scarborough

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough railed against the NRA after the organization released a new anti-gun control ad tying Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

His problem with the ad? How dark the NRA made President Obama's face and hands.

"I think the shading is rather dramatic on the side of his face," Scarborough said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "It just seems patently obvious what they're doing."

He qualified his comment by saying that he was normally skeptical of claims of race-baiting:

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. 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. [MSNBC]

Scarborough then went on to compare the photo to the infamous 1994 TIME cover featuring O.J. Simpson that critics claimed portrayed him as much darker than he really was.

Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, criticized the ad both for its portrayal of Obama and also for going after Manchin, who had been endorsed by the NRA before co-authoring a bill with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to extend background checks to gun shows and online sales.

"It's ludicrous. This guy is an A+ rating on the NRA, a solid citizen on the issue," Steele told Politico. "It's sort of a tone deafness here from the NRA and, of course, the racial overtones come into play as well."

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