In new ad, Rep. Allen West touts rival's past arrest

Rep. Allen West, R-Fla. West.House.gov

(CBS News) Allen West, a controversial Republican lawmaker seeking re-election in Florida's 22nd district, released a new ad Friday touting his Democratic rival's 2003 arrest, complete with the candidate's resulting mug shot.

In the 30-second spot, entitled "Decide," West compares his own actions on the night of Feb. 16, 2003 to those of Patrick Murphy, the Democrat who is attempting to unseat the first-term congressman.

On that night, according to the campaign, West "had just received deployment orders and prepares his men to go to war." The spot then zooms in on a map of "South Beach, Miami," where "Patrick Murphy is thrown out of a club for fighting, covered in alcohol and unable to stand," according to the narrator. "Murphy then confronts and verbally assaults a police officer."

"Patrick Murphy was arrested and taken to jail," the narrator continues, as Murphy's mugshot is featured next to West's head shot. "Two men, a country in crisis. You decide."

"Our new television ad exposes Patrick Murphy for who he really is-a spoiled brat who knows nothing of duty, honor or service," the West campaign said in a press release Friday. "Patrick Murphy can duck every debate and his father can run all the false, racist attack ads he wants, but it doesn't change the fact that Patrick Murphy is the emptiest of empty suits and of highly questionable character. Patrick Murphy is not fit for office."

According to Florida's Palm Beach Post, Murphy was 19 and in college at the time of his arrest, and charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. He has since called the incident "the biggest mistake of my life."

In a statement, the Murphy campaign attacked the ad as shameless and hypocritical.

"Allen West is shamelessly attacking Patrick Murphy for a mistake he made as a teenager, which he has discussed at length in the media as a mistake he learned from. West then goes on to discuss his tenure in the military in 2003 while failing to acknowledge that he was criminally charged that year for assault and violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Murphy communications director Erin Moffet. "The only reason he was able to escape prosecution is because he cut a deal to retire. Unfortunately, West's unstable behavior has continued in Congress, and he continues to diminish the office and the people to which he serves."

The congressional race has become both contentious and expensive: According to the Palm Beach Post, West has raised more than $10 million to defend his seat, while Murphy has topped $2 million in contributions.

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