Senator Ted Cruz addresses delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016.
Photo by Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty

Despite his record, Cruz targets his Dem rival over his nickname


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) generally isn’t seen as one of the year’s vulnerable incumbents, but now that the general-election season has apparently begun in the Lone Star State – statewide primaries were yesterday – the Republican senator feels the need to go on the offensive against his Democratic rival.

As CNN noted, however, Cruz has picked a curious point to emphasize in his first attack ad.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s first shot at his expected Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke? Mocking his name.

As Tuesday’s primaries were closing, Cruz’s campaign released a 60-second radio ad that was a country music jingle prodding O’Rourke for going by “Beto” rather than “Robert.”

“Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin,” the song says.

It’s true that Beto O’Rourke’s given first name is Robert, but he prefers Beto. This shouldn’t be especially noteworthy, since plenty of prominent political figures use nicknames. Mitt Romney’s given first name isn’t Mitt. Rick Perry’s given first name isn’t Rick. Newt Gingrich’s given first name isn’t Newt. No one really cares, since people should be called whatever they want to be called.

That’s not the funny part. Rather, what makes this interesting – aside from the fact that a Texas Republican feels the need to go on the offensive against a Democrat in the first place – is that Ted Cruz’s given first name isn’t Ted.

In fact, the Texas senator’s formal name is Rafael Edward Cruz. He prefers to go by Ted, which is obviously his choice.

But I suspect you see where I’m going with this. If you’re a politician who uses a nickname instead of your given name, maybe attacking an opponent for doing the exact same thing isn’t such a good idea?

CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Cruz about this earlier, and the senator said part of the point was to show “a sense of humor” – because if there’s one thing Ted Cruz is known for, it’s his affinity for lighthearted fun?