Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz will launch his first Campaign ads for the 2016 presidential campaign during Easter Weekend. The GOP presidential hopeful bought air time during FOX News’ “Killing Jesus” program, which is adapted from Bill O’Reilly’s book by the same title. Cruz also purchased advertising time to run campaign commercials during NBC’s ”A.D.: The Bible Continues”, on Easter Sunday. The NBC ads will run in the targeted early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
In the first week after Cruz formally announced his entry into the 2016 presidential race, the Texas Senator has raised about four million dollars in campaign contributions. Senator Cruz announced his candidacy at Liberty University, a religious college founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell.
By running campaign ads during Easter Weekend programming that targets Christian viewers, Cruz is continuing his efforts to court Right-wing evangelical voters. The Cruz campaign expects a number of Christian conservatives will tune into Easter weekend, Jesus-themed programs. According to The Washington Post, one Cruz adviser stated, ”for the impact, it’s crazy not to buy this”.
Senator Cruz is competing with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, for the hardcore Christian conservative vote. A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released on April 1, 2015, finds Ted Cruz ahead of both Huckabee and Carson nationally. The poll found Cruz in the top tier of candidates with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Although the poll did not survey religious affiliation, it did find that Cruz was the most popular candidate with “very conservative” voters. With that demographic, Cruz led with 33 percent support, to 25 percent for Scott Walker, and 12 percent for Ben Carson. Jeb Bush, who is deeply distrusted by hard-line Christian conservatives, garnered just 4 percent of support from “very conservative” voters.
Senator Ted Cruz has made it very clear that he is willing to mix religion and politics, in order to propel his candidacy. His campaign will run ads on Easter Weekend in an explicit attempt to target Christian conservative voters. Whether his appeal will be successful or not remains to be seen. However, given the Religious Right’s willingness to support the most extreme Republican candidates, Cruz’s strategy probably makes sense politically, at least for the primary campaign.
His willingness to marry politics to religion, however, may prove more double-edged in a general election. Voters who believe in the separation between religion and the state, are likely to be turned off by Cruz’s implicit willingness to turn the United States into a theocracy.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.