Republican Florida Rep. Allen West's campaign has unleashed an attack ad that it hopes will be a knockout punch for his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, whose angry campaign accused the GOP of scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The ad reintroduces Murphy's 2003 arrest for underage drinking into the campaign conversation, juxtaposing West's 2003 deployment to Iraq against Murphy's drunken rendezvous in South Beach.
On Feb. 16, 2003, "Lt. Col. Allen West had just received deployment orders and prepared his men to go to war," the ad's narrator says. "That same night...Patrick Murphy was ejected from a bar for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand. Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer."
West's campaign then splashes Murphy's 2003 police mug shot on the screen, against a photo of West in a suit.
"Two men. A country in crisis. You decide," the narrator says over the images.
West's high-budget attack comes during a rough patch for the Murphy campaign.
While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pledged $500,000 in the final three weeks of the campaign, it pulled $60,000 worth of ads for Murphy off of the air last week and spread the money instead to competitive races elsewhere.
And an internal poll out Friday from West's campaign shows the Tea Party incumbent leading Murphy by nine points in the 18th District.
Murphy campaign strategist Eric Johnson called the West ad outrageous.
"He is attacking Patrick Murphy for something that happened when he was a 19-year-old teenager," Johnson says. "And, he is specifically referencing his military service in 2003, which is the year he was charged with three counts of assault and violating the code of military justice."
Johnson says he is unsure whether Murphy's campaign would air a rebuttal ad.
The Murphy campaign, however, has not missed the fundraising opportunity presented by the attack ad.
The campaign sent a letter to donors Friday reading, "Allen West is attacking Patrick with his most despicable ad yet. We have got him on the ropes, and he is desperately turning to vicious personal attacks."
Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.