Donald Trump's Republican opponents are taking dead aim at his character and credibility in advertisements now circulating in South Carolina, a state known for enjoying a good sparring match before its primaries.
Of the six Republican attack ads currently broadcasting ahead of the state's Republican contest Saturday, five directly target the real estate mogul. Another focuses on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is briefly mentioned in a commercial released by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, that ad also centers on Trump.
One explanation for the overwhelming barrage (the majority of which has been sponsored by Cruz's campaign) is that top South Carolina Republicans have said that Trump is the most likely to win because the state has historically chosen candidates based on values and emotion, according to the Washington Post.
In one of Cruz's attack ads, titled "Playing Trump," three young boys mimic the front-runner using an action figure likeness that "pretends to be Republican" while saying that he supports big bank bailouts and that he gave money to Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and former Rep. Anthony Weiner. The Trump doll also asks Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to be his friend for money, and the ad ends with the children making the Trump doll smash a "lousy" dollhouse while declaring eminent domain as the parents watch the children in shock.
In two more South Carolina attack ads against Trump, Cruz goes after his opponent's record on social issues. The ad titled "Currency" mocks Trump's past support of Planned Parenthood, when he said the organization "serves a good function" in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. Cruz released another ad Monday after former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's passing, claiming that Trump cannot be trusted with the decision to nominate a replacement because he admitted during a 1991 interview on "Meet the Press" to being pro-choice and said he would not ban partial-birth abortions if he was president.
Bush's super PAC follows a similar line with ads attempting to out Trump as a fake conservative. An ad titled "Iceberg" features a frozen sculpture of Trump slowly melting as the voiceover says you can " see right through him." The ad also cites Trump's support for partial-birth abortions and notes that he has fallen into four bankruptcies and has lost against Hillary Clinton in several polls. As the Trump ice sculpture cracks and falls to the ground, the ad concludes, "If Trump wins, conservatives lose."
In another shot at the field titled "Suck Ups," Bush is praised for standing up to Trump and being the "real conservative." The ad says, "Some candidates suck up to Trump" as a photo of Cruz smiling at the front-runner flashes, while others "run away from him in fear" as a robot with Sen. Marco Rubio's face appears, mocking the Florida senator's recent use of the same talking points during debates and campaign events. The ad also commends Bush for his courage to call out Trump for his remarks trash-talking women, people with disabilities and Sen. John McCain's military service. The video is punctuated by Bush passing Trump and Ben Carson, who each missed their cues to walk onto the stage ahead of last week's ABC News debate in New Hampshire.
In the one attack ad against Cruz by a conservative group, the senator is dubbed as "weak" on foreign policy. Specifically, the ad says Cruz voted against defense spending alongside Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), proposed the legalization of a large group of undocumented immigrants and praised the actions of Edward Snowden.
Cruz had previously put out an attack ad against Rubio in South Carolina that claimed he is "just a pretty face," but the ad was pulled after the campaign discovered it featured a former soft-core porn actress.