Decorated veterans star in tough new anti-Trump ads

Decorated veterans are going after Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans hold on to Arizona House seat Dems win majority in New York Senate, but won't control it Mulvaney to bankers: Campaign donations will help limit consumer bureau's power MORE’s character in hard-hitting new Florida ads designed to drive down the Republican presidential front-runner’s popularity to stop him winning the crucial winner-take-all state on March 15.

In new attack ads, released by conservative nonprofit American Future Fund within a multimillion-dollar rotation, two veterans, Afghanistan Special Forces Commander Lt. Col. Michael Waltz and retired Vietnam pilot and prisoner of war Lt. Col. Tom Hanton, hit Trump for dodging the draft in Vietnam, “serving only himself,” and for criticizing Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… Schumer to oppose Pompeo as secretary of State Arizona GOP blocked from changing rules on filling McCain's seat MORE (R-Ariz.) for being captured during the Vietnam War.

American Future Fund spokesman Stuart Roy said in an email to The Hill Saturday that the group is swapping out its current ads in the Florida Panhandle for the new veteran ads and said it "will be adding new money there on Monday, as well."

“The Panhandle is full of active and retired military. Think Eglin Air Force Base, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Hulburt Field, Naval Support Activity Panama City, and Tyndall Air Force Base.” 

In one of the ads, Waltz tells viewers to put a stop Trump's campaign.

“Donald Trump hasn’t served this country a day in his life, essentially dodged the draft in Vietnam through multiple deferments,” Waltz says, speaking directly into the camera. “All Donald Trump has served is himself. Don’t let Donald Trump fool you. Look into his real record and stop Trump now."

Waltz said he is sickened by the billionaire businessman's comments disparaging McCain status as a war hero because he was captured.

“I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said in July.

Hanton accuses Trump of calling veterans losers, though Trump didn’t specifically do that. Instead, he called McCain a loser for coming up short in the 2008 presidential election to Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDems flip New York state seat that Republicans have held for nearly four decades Trump denies clemency to 180 people Mellman: Memories may be beautiful, yet… MORE.

“I supported McCain for president. He lost and let us down,” Trump told the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, last year. "I’ve never liked him as much after that.

“I don’t like losers,” he said.

The real estate mogul currently leads GOP rival Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLobbying world Former Florida congressmen mull bipartisan gubernatorial run: report Winners and losers from Jim Bridenstine’s confirmation as NASA administrator MORE by nearly 19 percentage points in Rubio’s home state of Florida, according to the latest RealClearPolitics average. But American Future Fund is part of a growing campaign against Trump from the Republican donor class, which is frantically trying to stop the billionaire from locking up the party’s nomination. Destroying Trump in Florida is now at the center of these groups' strategies. 

The billionaire Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is involved in one of the anti-Trump groups, Our Principles PAC, and tens of millions are now pouring into Rubio’s super-PAC Conservative Solutions PAC, much of it coming from Wall Street and a good deal of it earmarked to oppose Trump.

American Future Fund, as a “social welfare” nonprofit organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, is allowed to hide its donors’ identities, so it is unclear who are the main funders of its anti-Trump campaign. The AFF has previously been funded by groups affiliated with Charles and David Kochs's donor network, but the Koch groups are understood to have pulled back on their investment in recent years.

Asked how much money the AFF was going to add to the $1.75 million it has already committed to attacking Trump in Florida, Roy said in an email, “Not sure of the dollar amount we are adding on Monday as we are literally getting money coming in as we speak.  

“It’s a moving target but in a good way."

Before these new veterans ads launched, the AFF had been focused on portraying Trump as a business fraud due to his Trump University real estate investment school that is the subject of a lawsuit launched by former students who claim they were conned.  

Said Roy of the group’s new veterans-focused ads: “It’s unthinkable we could have as Commander-in-Chief someone who avoided the draft and then insulted our bravest American heroes ... for having been captured in the line of duty.  

“The more people know about Donald Trump, the more they understand that honor and Trump are not synonyms."

The Trump campaign has been contacted for comment on this report. 

Alexander Bolton contributed