Super PACs supporting Republican Ted Cruz's presidential campaign released a new digital ad Sunday that counters rival Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the senator from Texas by using Trump’s own words.
The 60-second spot is part of a coordinated six-figure buy by affiliated groups that call themselves Keep the Promise and are backed by Cruz’s biggest donors.
It comes hours after tensions between Trump and Cruz escalated when Trump told ABC’s “This Week” that Cruz is a “very nasty guy.”
“Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him. He’s a very — he’s got an edge that’s not good,” Trump said.
Kellyanne Conway, a longtime Republican strategist and president of one of the Keep the Promise groups, said that Cruz allies decided to promptly respond – and that Trump’s scathing criticism Sunday did not echo what he said a few years ago.
“Guess who likes Cruz? Donald Trump. He calls him ‘brave’ and ‘a special guy’ in our new ad,” Conway said in a statement.
The ad begins with a black-and-white photograph of the two GOP rivals together in happier times. Audio of Trump’s effusive introduction of Cruz at a 2014 fundraising event in Florida plays over a montage.
Speaking at a Republican dinner held at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach club, Trump showered praise on Cruz for his efforts to repeal President Obama’s health-care law that led to a federal government shutdown.
“It was a brave stand,” Trump says as short clips of Cruz flash. “He shouldn’t be controversial because what he’s doing is right.”
Trump went on in his remarks that day to praise Cruz’s intellect and education: “He really is a special guy. He went to Harvard. Great student. … He went out and became a great lawyer. I wish I knew him then.”
The ad ends as a crowd roars and Trump calls Cruz a “very, very popular and important figure in all of our lives.”
Earlier Sunday, Cruz appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and defended his critique of Trump’s “New York values,” a term he used at last week’s GOP presidential debate that drew an onslaught of ire from New York residents.
Referencing a 1999 NBC interview of Trump, Cruz said the billionaire “explained in his views that he was pro-choice, he supported partial-birth abortion, open to gay marriage, and his explanation for all that, he said, I’m a New Yorker, I’m from Manhattan. Those are the views of New York.”