Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) released a biting new ad in the battle to keep his House seat that features a mug shot of his opponent while showing the lawmaker serving in the Army.
The 30-second spot compares what West and Democrat Patrick Murphy were doing on the night of Feb. 16, 2003. The ad zooms in on Fort Hood, Texas, where it says that that night West, then a lieutenant colonel in the Army, received orders to deploy to Iraq and was preparing to go to war. It shows photos of West in military uniform.
The ad then zooms over to South Beach, Miami, where it says Murphy was "thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand." Murphy was then taken to jail after verbally assaulting a police officer, and the ad shows his mug shot, in which he's disheveled and seems disoriented.
"Two men. A country in crisis. You decide," a narrator says at the close of the ad, which shows an official photo of West side by side with Murphy's mug shot.
The ad offers a compelling contrast for voters in Florida's 18th district, but Murphy's campaign pushed back on the claims and said they open up a discussion on West's military record.
"Allen West has now opened up for the public what his military record actually was in 2003. He's very clear in the ad to say what he was doing — 2003 was when he was being criminally charged for assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice shortly after he was forced to resign from the military," said Murphy campaign adviser Eric Johnson.
West was charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice after firing a gun near an Iraqi's head in order to get information out of him. West resigned from the military with full benefits and was fined, rather than court-martialed.
Johnson also pointed out that West's ad targeted Murphy for an incident of underage drinking; he was 19 at the time. Though he wouldn't elaborate on whether the Murphy campaign planned to launch a comparative attack on West's military record, Johnson did say that the ad is "begging for the media and the public to look into what his actual military record was."
House Majority PAC, a Democratic group aimed at taking back the House majority, launched its second ad in the district on Friday as well, hammering West for statements he's made in the past and attempting to shift focus to his unpaid bills.
The ad features clips of some of West's more infamous comments, including a talk he gave during which he said a number of members of the Democratic Party were also members of the Communist Party, a clip in which he seems to suggest the American news media should be censored and a clip of him calling Social Security disability "modern, 21st-century slavery."
The end of the ad points to six liens West had for "unpaid bills, including $11,000 for the IRS," citing Politifact.
The group says with this ad, it's now spending over $1.5 million in the district to defeat West. Though the district leans Republican and West has the advantage of incumbency, Democrats hope that focusing on statements West has made in the past could undermine his chances for a second term.
Watch the West ad: