Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) invoked the memory of his late brother in a new campaign ad released Monday, using the spot to simultaneously slam freshman Democrat Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) and NFL-player–turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, among others.
Sitting near the fire pit outside his family’s Baldwin County farm, Byrne mentions his brother Dale, who died in 2013 after battling a respiratory illness Byrne’s campaign said was contracted during his military service overseas in Iraq.
“When the towers fell, I knew my brother would be going to war,” Byrne says in the 30-second ad. “Dale was a true patriot. I can’t bring him back. I miss him every day.”
The ad then takes a turn, calling out progressives like Omar, whom the GOP candidate accused of “cheapening” the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Minnesota rep has previously come under fire for remarks she made in an address to the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a speech in which she argued that after the attacks all Muslims were painted as terrorists.
Omar said those like her were beginning to lose their civil liberties because “some people did something,” referring to terror group al-Qaeda’s attack on New York’s City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon back in 2001. Several critics accused the lawmaker of being dismissive of the tragedy.
Byrne’s political ad also took aim at Kaepernick, who drew outrage when as an NFL quarterback he started kneeling during pregame performances of the national anthem, and more recently got under conservatives’ skin when he criticized the U.S. airstrike that assassinated a top Iranian general.
“It hurts me to hear Ilhan Omar cheapening 9/11, entitled athletes dishonoring our flag, [and] ‘the Squad’ attacking America,” Byrne said.
His last quip refers to the group of freshman congresswomen — Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D- Mass.) and Omar — who’ve often come under criticism from the right for their progressive politics.
“Dale fought for that right,” Byrne added, “but I will not let them tear our country apart. That’s why I’m running for Senate.”
According to his campaign, Dale Byrne served in the Alabama National Guard and was a member of the Airborne Rangers and Special Forces. His service took him across the globe, including the Middle East, after the 9/11 attacks.
Byrne is just one of seven Republican candidates vying to unseat Sen. Doug Jones in this year’s Alabama Senate race, Al. com reports. Other candidates include former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who once held the seat, Roy Moore, who barely lost to Jones in the 2017 special election for the seat despite being dogged by allegations that he preyed on underage girls when he was in his 30s, and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, among others.
The Republican primary is set for March 3.
Watch more in the clip below.