If Texans have forgotten what President Trump has said about Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, there is a 22-foot-long refresher course. On wheels.
A billboard truck has rumbled through Dallas and now Houston in recent weeks, carrying one of Trump’s insulting jabs, ahead of the president’s arrival this month. Trump said in August that he would hold a rally with Cruz, now in a bitter fight to hold his seat against Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger.
″Why would the people of Texas support Ted Cruz when he has accomplished absolutely nothing for them. He is another all talk, no action pol!” the truck’s billboard reads, a faithful reproduction of Trump’s tweet during his 2016 campaign.
What started as a one-off joke on Twitter has grown into a multicity tour that has drawn eyeballs and a flurry of social media posts, said Antonio Arellano, a Houston-based activist and Latino community organizer who dreamed up the initiative.
So far, the truck has provoked positive responses with young voters who may have been unenthusiastic about the midterms, Arellano told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
“The purpose was to not to necessarily convert or change, but to remind Texans where the president once stood,” he said.
The Cruz campaign did not return a request for comment.
So far, the truck has set up at the Dallas Cowboys season opener Sept. 9 and a concert featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Arellano said.
There have been few negative responses, he said, although one incident in Houston involved a man who pulled in front of the truck and suddenly stopped to block it. The truck drove around him, Arellano said.
Arellano started a GoFundMe page to fuel the effort after Trump announced the yet-to-be-confirmed Texas rally. Donations soared. Arellano was subsequently joined by David Hogg, a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who got involved after catching wind of the image on Twitter.
Political activist Claude Taylor also joined the effort, and their $6,000 goal was met and surpassed within a day, Arellano said. They stopped taking donations after receiving $9,760.
Arellano said the truck also hits Cruz for not challenging Trump’s hard-line immigration policies that have affected Latinos in Texas. Cruz’s father is a Cuban immigrant.
Data suggests that Texas will have a majority Hispanic population as early as 2022, and Arellano said Cruz and other Texas conservatives have not done enough to open their tent to Latinos.
“They’re going to have a really tough time in decades to come,” Arellano said, speaking of Republican politicians in Texas.
Although O’Rourke appears to be the most serious Democratic contender to unseat a Republican in years, his path to victory will be difficult in the comfortably conservative state.
Still, Trump’s desire to give Cruz a bump and recent polls may signal that the race is close, and may put a reliably Republican seat into Democratic hands.
Arellano said he is in talks for more fundraising to send the truck elsewhere in Texas, possibly out West and into the Rio Grande Valley in the southwest, he said.
He said the truck will just carry the one tweet, though it certainly wasn’t the only choice.
Trump has tweeted that he doubts Cruz’s Christian bona fides and attacked the physical appearance of Cruz’s wife. In response, Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward.”
“It’s not easy to tick me off. I don’t get angry often. But you mess with my wife, you mess with my kids, that’ll do it every time,” Cruz said in March 2016. “Leave Heidi the hell alone.”
Seven months later, Cruz was at a GOP office in Fort Worth and making calls to voters in a last-minute push.
The wall behind him was covered in posters bearing the specter of his failed presidential bid: Trump, Trump, Trump.
Cleve Wootson contributed to this report.