WASHINGTON (AP) — A well-funded outside group helping Texas Sen. Ted Cruz fight for the Republican presidential nomination has purchased $2.5 million of television advertising time — an investment that catapults it to the top tier of spenders in the 2016 race.
Keep the Promise I, one of more than half a dozen Cruz-themed super political action committees, placed new TV ads to begin airing Tuesday in Iowa, the first state up in the primary contest, spokeswoman Kristina Hernandez said Monday. The ad buy expands to third-to-vote South Carolina in a week, she said.
The ads come as Cruz appears to be picking up steam in the still-crowded Republican primary. He is at or near the top of recent polls in Iowa without having spent much campaign money to advertise there. Likewise, his super PACs have been slow to start spending major money on commercials.
That changes with this ad buy.
The new investment more than doubles what Keep the Promise I had previously booked on ads and puts it well ahead of Cruz's official campaign spending on TV, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group.
The commercials supplement the on-the-ground efforts, mailings, and digital and radio advertising of four coordinated super PACs that all use a variation of the name "Keep the Promise."
The message of the new 30-second ad echoes Cruz's campaign theme that he has stood up to Democrats and Republicans alike. It includes clips of Cruz at a debate and at some of his own campaign appearances, and features people asserting that he can be trusted.
"He actually went to Washington, D.C., and did what he told the voters he was going to do," one woman says.
"When I tell you I'm going to do something, I'm going to do exactly what I said I'd do," Cruz is shown saying at the end of the ad.
By law, super PACs cannot take directions from the candidate they're helping, but they can significantly influence the race because — unlike the candidates' official campaigns — they face no limits on fundraising and can tap trusted former aides of the candidate to shape their messages.
The Keep the Promise super PAC quartet raised more than $37 million in the first six months of the year, making it one of the best-funded outside efforts supporting any presidential candidate. Fundraising reports documenting what these kinds of outside groups raised between July and December are due to federal regulators at the end of this month.
Keep the Promise I, which so far is the most active of any of the four, is funded almost exclusively by Robert Mercer, a New York hedge-fund billionaire.
There's a bit of irony that Mercer's group is spending big on an ad portraying Cruz as a truth-teller: Just last week Cruz criticized fellow presidential contender Donald Trump for his "New York values."
Explaining what he meant by that at the GOP debate Thursday night, Cruz said, "Everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal or pro-abortion or pro-gay-marriage, focus around money and the media."
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