George Patton "Pat" Waters, the Republican grandson of legendary World War II Army Gen. George S. Patton, charged into South Carolina's top U.S. House race by endorsing Democrat Joe Cunningham over GOP candidate Nancy Mace in a new TV ad.
The 30-second spot called "Proud" began airing Tuesday across South Carolina's coastal 1st Congressional District — a district that is home to the largest veteran population in the state.
Waters, a Republican who lives in Mount Pleasant, brought his grandfather's combat boots.
"These are the boots of an American hero: Gen. George S. Patton, my grandfather," Waters says as the brown leather boots loom in the opening shot of the ad. "He said moral courage was the most valuable trait. Well, Joe Cunningham has lots of it.
"Joe got help for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange, made sure our Coast Guard got paid during the shutdown and worked to pass a bill so our vets didn't have to travel so far for care," said Waters, a Navy veteran who served during Vietnam.
Then, he drops a twist.
"I'm a Republican," Waters says, straight to camera. "I've never voted for a Democrat in my life, but I voted for Joe and I'll do it again."
State voting participation records show Waters has voted consistently in every Republican statewide primary since 2000, including the most recent GOP primary in June. Records filed with the state Ethics Commission also show Waters was once a Mace supporter.
He gave twice to Mace when she ran for the S.C. Statehouse in a 2018 special election for State House District 99, which represents portions of both Charleston and Berkeley counties, covering parts of Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, the Cainhoy peninsula, Hanahan and Goose Creek.
His contributions totaled $1,500.
The ad, which is Cunningham's second TV ad in the general election, is a familiar tactic in his campaign playbook. During his first run for Congress in 2018, Cunningham garnered GOP support from Republican-identifying coastal mayors. They, too, went on the air to endorse him.
It's also not the first time Waters has exerted his influence on the political stage, but it is the first time he has weighed in on a race so close to home.
Waters endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for president in 2016 and rebuked then-candidate Donald Trump when he said, "Mr. Trump, you are no Patton."
During an appearance Tuesday morning on FOX News, Mace was asked to respond to a clip of Cunningham's new ad with Waters. She did not react to the endorsement but instead leaned on her own military ties in the district.
"I love our military. My father is a retired Army general. He served 28 years in the U.S. Army, and I'm a graduate of The Citadel and I have many members of my family who are active duty military or are military veterans themselves," Mace said on "Fox and Friends."
She then criticized an outside group that is supporting Cunningham in the general election for running negative digital ads against her while she was recovering from the novel coronavirus.
A week before the GOP primary in June, Mace secured the support of Medal of Honor recipient and retired Marine Maj. Gen. James Livingston of Mount Pleasant.