Jesse Kelly, a U.S. Marine from Arizona running for Congress displays a photo of himself serving in Iraq as part of his fundraising campaign.

“Send a warrior to Congress.”

“Does this look like a Rino?”

In the battleground of American political power, candidates for office tend to use every weapon at their disposal to be heard above the din.

Now, a U.S. Marine who helped lead the initial charge into Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein is taking that approach literally by brandishing his M-16 assault rifle in some eye-catching campaign fundraising ads.

“I’m taking full credit for that,” says 28-year-old Jesse Kelly of Tucson, Ariz., a Republican seeking to boot Democrat Gabrielle Giffords from the U.S. House of Representatives. “If you’re not going to get anyone’s attention, you might as well not waste your time or money.”

Sgt. Kelly, who is married and has a 9-month-old son, is splashing his spots across the Internet on high-profile sites such as the Drudge Report, and offering no apologies about the weapon imagery.

“I think people understand fully well that I’m serving my country,” he said. “I’m in Iraq at war for my nation. I’m not posing in my bedroom with a gun.”

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To date, the former infantryman says he’s collected about $100,000, expecting to need up to $1.5 million to win the race.


Another campaign ad for Jesse Kelly shows him on active duty while serving as a U.S. Marine in Iraq.

Regarding his “tough guy” theme, Kelly said, “People are sick of politicians from all parties. They’re lying to them. People want someone to fight for them in Washington and that’s the message I want to convey.”

After being honorably discharged in 2004 and taken off inactive reserve last year, Kelly now works in the private sector as a project manager for a construction company that handles commercial water and sewer projects.

While he says he always loved politics, he never had a desire to be a politician.

But that all changed with the election of Barack Obama – whom Kelly calls a “radical president” – and the signing of the stimulus bill “monstrosity.”

“They’re spending us off the cliff!” he exclaimed. “They’re destroying this nation, and while I’m still breathing, I will not let it happen. It’s time to be ‘in your face.'”

Indeed, Kelly’s online ad thrashes the current administration, stating:

I’m tired of President Obama and the liberals who control Congress insulting us, calling us racist, and calling us a mob. I’m tired of their double-talk. I’m tired of their bait-and-switch shell games. I’m tired of being avoided by my public servants. They have forgotten that they work for us. …

Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We are that generation! Either we stand now and fight for our country, or the great United States of America may be but a fading memory.

He told WND his main goals are to “bring fiscal sanity back to Washington, to stop the out-of-control spending, and get back to the founding principles of free-market capitalism.”

Kelly actually took over a town-hall meeting this month when its original congressional host, Rep. Giffords, canceled her appearance.

He stressed there’s “no question” the national outpouring of rage against members of Congress is “100 percent genuine.”

“These are citizens concerned about a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy,” Kelly said, explaining Americans are not ready to give life-and-death decisions to Obama.

“These people are scared of a government that has grown radically out of control.”

 


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