Joe Sestak compared himself to fellow Democrats Max Cleland and John Kerry in a speech decrying Arlen Specter's use of "swift-boat politics."
"Enough is enough,” Sestak said in a speech Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. "An attack on the honor of a veteran is a dishonor to every veteran, and to do it for the purposes of one's political advantage discredits our great democracy."
Cleland and Kerry faced harsh attacks on their Vietnam War records during campaigns in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Cleland lost his race for a second Senate term after his opponent, now-Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ran a TV ad that featured images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
Earlier this month, Specter's campaign launched a TV ad that said Sestak was "relieved of duty in the Navy for creating a poor command climate."
"Arlen Specter's probably a little confused," the congressman said. "He's forgotten, as he said, is he is in the Republican Party or is he in the Democratic Party?
"Don't bring your Republican swift-boat tactics into a party that has abhorred them," he said. "He has a record of doing this."
The Specter campaign insisted that Sestak's Navy record is fair game because he was using it to make the case for his Senate candidacy.
Sestak, a former three-star admiral, insisted he wouldn't go negative on Specter in the final weeks of the Senate primary campaign.
"We will continue to run a very positive campaign. That doesn't mean we're not going to stand up and say, 'this is a baseless attack,'" he said. "It's working because Pennsylvanians are really upset that Washington's broken."