Story updated at 2:48 p.m. to fix a typo.
NASHVILLE — Republican Grant Starrett is on cable television with his first ad, in which he describes himself as a conservative, truth-telling Christian fighter as he takes aim at "politically correct cowards," "radical Muslims" and more.
The 30-second spot, which the Starrett campaign says is running on cable in a "six-figure" buy, moves the 28-year-old attorney's GOP primary Aug. 4 challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., into a new phase after more than a year of Starrett attending county-level GOP gatherings and mobilizing teams of campaign workers to go door to door in the sprawling district in hopes of toppling DesJarlais.
In his ad, Starrett, standing before a bucolic backdrop, tells viewers, "I'm not afraid to tell you the truth. Our nation has been taken over by politically correct cowards.
"Under the Obama disaster, we're going easy on radical Muslims," the candidate warns. "Financing abortions and paying people not to work. As a Christian, I pray for America. But the time has come for us to fight for what we believe. If you believe, join the fight."
While he never mentions U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the spot, in a likely foreshadowing of future ad attacks, Starrett does hit the three-term incumbent in a news release accompanying the ad.
Describing Democratic President Barack Obama as a "disaster," Starrett says in the release that "Congressman Scott DesJarlais has been part of the problem. DesJarlais betrayed you when he voted against giving $38 billion to our military to restore Obama's defense cuts."
The challenger also charged DesJarlais again "betrayed" 4th Congressional District voters "when he completely failed to hold the nation's largest abortion provider accountable."
The latter is a reference to a U.S. House committee hearing on allegations Planned Parenthood was "selling" parts of aborted fetuses, a charge the organization says is false and the result of selectively edited "sting" recordings with anti-abortion activists.
DesJarlais said he gave his time over to another congressman who in turn gave the time over to a congresswoman because he thought a female lawmaker would be more effective in making the case.
"The unborn were left voiceless," Starrett said in his statement. "This past month, he three times refused to define when life begins, finally saying he doesn't know. I want to protect life from conception and stop your tax dollars from going to abortionists."
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.
This story was updated June 6 at 11:55 p.m. with minor edits.