Allen West's new ad: The most brutal clip of 2012?

The Florida Tea Party hero contrasts his 2003 military service with what his opponent was doing at the time — getting arrested after a drunken nightclub brawl. Ouch

The video: The campaign season has seen its share of vicious attack ads, but freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) has just released what might be the most brutal campaign commercial of the year. (Take a look at the 30-second video below.) The spot begins with a montage spotlighting the controversial, blunt-spoken Tea Party favorite's military career, saying that on Feb. 16, 2003, West, then an Army colonel, was at Fort Hood, Texas, where he had just received deployment orders, and was preparing his men to go to war. Then it cuts to a picture of West's Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy, and says that on the same night, Murphy was in South Beach, Fla., getting kicked out of a nightclub for fighting, "covered in alcohol and unable to stand." Murphy, who was 19 at the time and has described the night as the biggest mistake of his life, then confronted and verbally assaulted a police officer, and was taken to jail. The ad concludes: "Two men, a country in crisis. You decide."

The reaction: Wow, this takes nasty to a whole new level, says Aaron Blake at The Washington Post. Juxtaposing your opponent's police mug shot with pictures of you in uniform in a war zone is about as in-your-face as it gets. Well, Murphy started it, says Michael Warren at The Weekly Standard. Last month, a Democratic ad portrayed West, "who is black, cartoonishly punching a white woman." Talk about a low blow. Yes, West may have just been responding in kind to Murphy's "racist" ad, says Robert Kessler at Gawker. Then again, being an aggressive jerk comes naturally to him. By highlighting his military service in this way, he's unwisely inviting voters to take another look at "that time he was kicked out of the military a year later for torturing an Iraqi police officer." Oops. Take a look at West's hard-hitting ad for yourself:

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