Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) today released a blistering contrast ad against his Democratic opponent, businessman Patrick Murphy. The 30-second spot compares what West and Murphy were both doing on Feb. 16, 2003.
The ad zooms across a satellite map of the United States to southern Florida. "That night, South Beach, Miami: Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand," the narrator says. "Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer."
Murphy's mugshot, in which he appears quite discombobulated, appears on screen.
"Patrick Murphy was arrested and taken to jail," the narrator says. "Two men, a country in crisis, you decide," he adds, as an image of West in a suit appears next to the mugshot of Murphy.
The ad uses a military-operations motif, with action-movie-like graphics and sound effects over zoomed-in satellite photos. A male narrator sets the scene over pictures of West in his Army uniform: "Fort Hood, Texas: Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders and prepares his men to go to war."
The Murphy campaign hit back hard.
"Allen West is now opening up what his military record was in 2003," said Eric Johnson, a senior adviser to Murphy's campaign. "In 2003, he was criminally charged by the military with assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and was subsequently kicked out of the military. I find it odd that he's trying to brag about that particular year of service. And he's attacking Patrick Murphy for drinking as a teenager, which I think is a silly attack."
West actually resigned from the military with full benefits after an Article 15 proceeding in which he was fined for his conduct with an Iraqi prisoner, which included firing a gun near the prisoner's head.
The West campaign said the ad was backed by a significant buy on cable and broadcast television in the West Palm Beach media market for the next week.
A Democratic source familiar with the buys in the district said West's campaign was up with 1,400 gross rating points of television from Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 and was booked for 1,600 points from Oct. 2-8.
Murphy's campaign, a pro-Democratic super PAC and a pro-Allen West super PAC are all also on air right now, but with less of a presence.
Murphy's campaign had, according to the Democratic source, 450 points of TV through Oct. 1 and 500 points Oct. 2-8.
In a potential preview of the back-and-forth, the West campaign responded to the Murphy campaign's knock.
"Allen West fought and defended his country honorably for 22 years and retired honorably from the U.S. Army with full benefits," West campaign manager Tim Edson said. "While Patrick Murphy was getting drunk and getting arrested, Allen West was shipping off to war. The ad speaks for itself."