New York GOP Rep. Tom Reed says the Democrat trying to unseat him in November is playing dirty politics by running attack ads that show him before he lost 110 pounds.
Reed and his campaign told FoxNews.com on Wednesday that the images put out by his general election rival go too far, while acknowledging that unflattering images are indeed part of politics.
"My opponent, Martha Robertson, is using pictures that specifically exploit an actual condition that millions of Americans struggle with every day," Reed said, echoing comments he made recently in a local magazine interview. "I think most people running for office, Republican or Democrat, have good enough judgment not to attack people for physical conditions. And hopefully, my opponent is just an exception to the rule.”
Reed, elected to Congress in 2010, lost the weight by having gastric bypass surgery in 2013.
Ads by the campaign for Robertson, a state legislator, appear to show Reed before the surgery.
But the Robertson campaign insists its focus is Reed’s position on tax cuts for high-wage earners and raising the Social Security retirement age -- not his weight.
“Tom Reed is desperately trying to distract voters from the issues we raise in our ad,” campaign spokesman Seth Stein said. “Why doesn’t Congressman Reed want to have a conversation about his record?”
The 42-year-old Reed said he’s proud of his weight loss and that he had the surgery because he wanted to live longer for his two teenage children. The day of reckoning, said Reed, a former college athlete, was when his doctor said he could live to be either 62 or 82, depending on whether he loses weight.
Two of the most respected, non-partisan election analysis firms -- the Cook and Rothenberg political reports -- are projecting Reed as the favorite to win in western New York’s 23 Congressional District. But the race remains close.