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After being targeted by a blunt ad referencing his 2007 prostitution scandal, Republican Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is hitting back with a commercial that addresses allegations about his involvement with prostitutes.
"Fifteen years ago, I failed my family, but found forgiveness and love," Vitter says in the ad, speaking directly to the camera. "I learned that our falls aren’t what define us, but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption."
In 2007, Vitter apologized after he was linked to a figure known as the "DC Madam."
The charges resurfaced after Vitter's Democratic opponent in the race for Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, released an ad referencing the scandal.
"David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots. Now, the choice is yours," that ad stated.
But the ad sparked some backlash from veterans supporting Vitter, and notably a critical letter from the mother of a soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery, who said Vitter intervened to help secure a burial for her son at the cemetery after the Army initially said he didn't qualify.
"This is not an issue of politics, in my own personal life, I've seen how Senator Vitter has nothing but the utmost respect for the patriots who fight for our country and our freedoms. As someone who has also served and understands the dignity and honor associated, I would imagine you would avoid manipulating images of our nation's most respected military cemetery," Kim Florich wrote, and requested Edwards take down the ad.
In response, Edwards announced Monday he would edit his ad to remove the image of Arlington Cemetery, and released a letter responding to the mother seeking to clarify his intention with the ad.
"I am in receipt of your message and want you to know that the intent of the ad is not to offend. It is to highlight a dereliction of duty on the part of a man who is seeking our state's highest office," Edwards wrote.
Still, Edwards' campaign said it didn't regret running the ad, and wouldn't back down from its content. “This ad has one purely offensive element: that David Vitter chose to skip a vote to honor fallen heroes,” said Mary-Patricia Wray, spokesperson for the campaign. “Over the last 72 hours, Vitter and his campaign have taken issue with the form of the ad, but have never once disputed its truth.”
A runoff election is set for November 21.