Richard Linklater and the Fire Ted Cruz PAC have now teamed up on four commercials designed to convince Texans heading to the polls on November 6th that the incumbent senator is not the man to represent their state. Each of the ads have featured nothing more than an extremely Texan man, played by Sonny Carl Davis, sitting in an extremely Texan coffee shop, expressing bewilderment over how his home state could embrace such a craven, unlikable politician. Released Tuesday afternoon, the latest offering keys in on how even Republicans find Cruz objectionable. It’s every bit as effective as the first three.
“Another thing about Ted that’s not very Texan is he’s not friendly,” the man begins. “In Texas, everybody’s friendly. It says ‘Drive Friendly.’ The reason everybody hates Ted Cruz is because he doesn’t care about anybody but Ted Cruz. Even the speaker of the House, a Republican, said he was Lucifer. Lindsey Graham said if he was shot on the Senate floor and tried by the Senate he wouldn’t get a conviction.”
Cruz has long been abhorred by his colleagues in Congress. During the 2016 campaign, former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner called Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” while speaking at Stanford University. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner said. It was the second time Boehner used “Lucifer” to describe Cruz in as many months.
When Cruz was asked to respond, he said that in calling him “Lucifer,” Boehner had “allowed his inner Trump to come out.” On Monday night, Cruz embraced Trump at a rally in Houston hours after the president said he didn’t regret implicating Cruz’s father in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “God Bless Texas! And God bless President Donald Trump!” Cruz said after taking the stage in the Toyota Center. The rally was headlined by the president, who was forced to make a stop in Texas to solidify what was thought to be a safely Republican Senate seat. Cruz’s unpopularity combined with the appeal of challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has called the race into question. In the third quarter of 2018, O’Rourke raised $38.1 million, a record for a Senate campaign.
Prior to the rally Monday night, Trump informed the press he was changing Cruz’s nickname from “Lyin’ Ted” to “Beautiful Ted.” The new moniker was widely mocked.
The comment from Graham referenced by the man in the latest Linklater ad also came during the 2016 campaign. “A good Republican would defend Ted Cruz after tonight,” the senator said that February. “That ain’t happening. If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody could convict you.”
It was far from the only time Graham grew morbid when discussing his distaste for Cruz. He once compared choosing between Cruz and Trump as the Republican nominee to “being shot or poisoned,” saying later that he’s “going to buy a ticket on the Titanic” if he has to choose between the senator or the reality star. “Ted Cruz at his core is an opportunist when it comes to his political career,” Graham told Wolf Blitzer that February. “He has an ideological bent that won’t sell with the American people. And when it came time to say what Ted Cruz has done in the Senate, what he’s done is run down other Republicans. He hasn’t solved any problem.”
Cruz is currently leading O’Rourke in the polls, but the race is still well within reach for the rising star of the Democratic party. Unlike Cruz, O’Rourke actually seems like a friendly person. As the man in the Linklater ads might put it, he seems Texan.
The man closes this newest ad by offering Cruz some advice. “Ted, maybe try turning up that friendly knob some, if you have one,” the man says. “Try pretending that you care about others, like your constituents, Ted.”
“C’mon, Ted,” the man adds contemptuously.