Murphy ad attacks West’s military recordby George Bennett | October 2nd, 2012
Democratic congressional challenger Patrick Murphy, responding to an ad that features Murphy’s mug shot from a 2003 arrest, has released a new ad that takes aim at the 2003 incident in Iraq that ended Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West‘s military career.
It’s a risky strategy that Democrats chose to avoid when West ran for Congress in 2008 and 2010.
West was a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel in 2003 when fired a gun near the head of an Iraqi detainee during an interrogation to scare him into talking about a rumored plot to ambush West and his troops. Military prosecutors charged West with assault and he potentially faced 11 years in prison and dishonorable discharge. After a military hearing, West was fined $5,000 and allowed to retire with a full pension.
Because West’s actions generated a considerable outpouring of support as well as criticism, some Democrats said privately during his past campaigns that attacking what West did in combat might not be effective and could backfire.
Until last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee espoused that same view.
“Attacks on Allen West’s military record are not effective,” the DCCC said on a web page that sums up the race and is often used by outside groups for talking points.
The DCCC’s Stephanie Formas said that advice was removed from the site on Friday after West decided to attack Murphy’s disorderly intoxication arrest outside a Miami Beach club when Murphy was a 19-year-old. The intoxication charge was later dropped and a charge of possessing a fake driver license was dismissed.
“Allen West’s record in Congress is the most effective attack,” Formas said. “But when he came out with that ad, he opened himself up to clarifying what happened in 2003.”
The ad prompted this response from West campaign manager Tim Edson: “What kind of man who has never worn the uniform attacks an honorably discharged combat veteran for acting to protect the lives of his soldiers? A desperate man and apparently the same kind of man who calls a decorated combat veteran a coward, gets into drunken bar fights, verbally assaults police officers and then uses his family’s connections to get out of trouble. Patrick Murphy is a spoiled brat and a truly terrible person.”