The ad, posted Thursday morning, opens with Rep. Mike Coffman speaking directly to the camera, saying: "People ask me, 'what do you think about (Donald) Trump?' Honestly, I don't care for him much."
Coffman represents a bellwether district in the Denver area, and he's running against Democrat Morgan Carroll. The district is comprised of more moderate voters, suburban mothers and Hispanics -- all voting blocs Trump has struggled with. As he notes in the ad, the congressman is a Marine, and prior to that, he was also in the Army reserves.
This version of the ad, along with a Spanish-language one, appeared on YouTube midday Wednesday. The original version, which has since been made private
, contained brief footage of Coffman in a congressional hearing and could have drawn an ethics complaint over a House rule violation were it to air on television.
He is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country, as he was last cycle when he pulled off in a hard-fought win against Democrat Andrew Romanoff.
This ad shows he has made the calculation to distance himself from Trump's controversial candidacy, at a point when the Republican nominee has gone through one of the most difficult periods, taking on a Gold Star family and refusing to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan or Sen. John McCain in their primaries.
Underscoring the competitiveness of the race, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quickly put together an ad calling Coffman's pushback against Trump dishonest.
"You're the one who said you'd support him," the DCCC ad's narrator says, referencing a story from February in the Colorado Statesman
where a spokeswoman for Coffman said the congressman would "obviously" support the Republican nominee.
At the time, Coffman supported Sen. Marco Rubio, and has criticized Trump many times without fully writing off the possibility he would vote for him. In an interview
with KUSA in Colorado, Coffman said he did not have a presidential candidate yet and that he would not rule out voting for Trump or Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.
Although many members of Congress have distanced themselves from their party's nominee, Coffman's ad represents one of the first ads where a candidate outright declares their opposition to the top of their ticket.
Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, one of the most vulnerable sitting Republican senators, has also run a starkly anti-Trump campaign. He went up with an ad in June saying he had "bucked his party to say, 'Donald Trump is not fit to be commander in chief.' "
Coffman's ad came as the latest signal that the Republican Party is significantly divided over Trump, despite Trump's declaration Wednesday that his campaign had "never been so united."
A Fox News poll released Wednesday
showed Trump down by ten points in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton nationwide. A swing-state poll taken before
the party conventions and Trump's feud with the Khan family showed the Republican down 8 points in Colorado.