Ted Cruz (Getty/Jim Watson)

Ted Cruz, who goes by a nickname, attacks Beto O'Rourke for doing the same

Cruz is grasping for straws, trying to make the first salvo against his Democratic opponent


Charlie May
March 7, 2018 4:43PM (UTC)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, dished out the first attack against his Democratic opponent in his upcoming bid for reelection by targeting his opponent's name, and in the process, seemingly forgetting his own.

In the campaign ad, Cruz went after his opponent, Rep. Beto O'Rourke — whose full name is Robert — on immigration. "Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin," the jab sang. The entire ad was a Texas-style country song that took shots at O'Rourke for things such as "open borders" and wanting to "take our guns."

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"If you're gonna run in Texas, you can't be a liberal man," the lyrics in the ad said.

O'Rourke has insisted his name was given to him when he was very young and that it's something he's always gone by.

"My parents have called me Beto from day one, and it's just — it's kind of a nickname for Robert in El Paso. It just stuck," he told CNN on Tuesday.

But Cruz's major mistake, aside from issuing an ad hominem attack in a race that he's overwhelmingly favored to win, was that Cruz seemed to forget his own real name is Rafael Edward Cruz.

CNN's Chris Cuomo brought that up to Cruz, and the senator admitted with a smug grin that Cuomo was correct.

"You're absolutely right. My name is Rafael Edward Cruz," he acknowledged on Wednesday. "I am the son of my father Rafael Cruz, an immigrant from Cuba who came to Texas with nothing."

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Cuomo asked him why he would issue the attack, and Cruz defended his campaign ad and said he was "just having a sense of humor."

"In terms of the jingle, some of it is just having a sense of humor," he said. "We had some fun with it."

It almost goes without saying that Cruz's attack is not only unwarranted but entirely hypocritical. Cruz was critical of President Donald Trump's vicious campaign attacks during the 2016 presidential election. He's also been silent when it comes to the major scandals inside the White House, setting up a possible loyalty issue that he will certainly need to address as his race draws closer.

When asked how he planned to respond to the ad, O'Rourke said it's not something Texans want to "focus on."

"We can get into name-calling and talk about why the other person is such an awful guy, or we can focus on the big things we want to do for the future of our country, for the generations that will succeed us," he said. "We can focus on the small, mean, petty stuff, or we can be big, bold, courageous, and confident."

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Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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