Jeff Roe doesn’t like yard signs.
Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign manager, who also ran Cruz’s failed presidential bid in 2016, told the Texas Tribune that they are “ineffective” and that he prefers to spend campaign money on other forms of advertisement, such as direct mail or television ads.
But at a Cruz campaign rally yesterday at Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, signs were passed out freely among the crowd, a sign that the campaign may have miscalculated the impact of seeing the signs of his challenger, Beto O’Rourke, littering lawns across the state, even in traditionally Republican areas.
It was another misstep for a campaign that appears to be struggling to find its footing in a shifting political landscape. Cruz, who comes across as an eighty year old trapped in a forty-seven year old’s body at times, has had trouble drawing distinctions between himself and his opponent. At an earlier rally yesterday, Cruz warned that Democrats want to bring “tofu, silicon, and dyed hair” from California to Texas. Given the availability and frequent use of all three in the state already, and the fact that he later joked at the Katy rally that he brought his “vegetarian” wife from California to Texas, it is not clear if Cruz was aiming to insult O’Rourke, Texas, or his wife.
In March, Roe penned an opinion piece in the The New York Times that reads like a blueprint of Cruz’s Senate campaign. In it, he advised 2018 candidates to play up President Trump’s triumphs, including the economy, tax cuts, and job creation. “There is a message to sell,” he wrote. “So sell it.”
Cruz has dutifully complied. In every media appearance, he touts President Trump’s successes, with the same discipline he showed during his own presidential run. Last week, Trump announced that he would do a rally with Cruz at “the biggest stadium in Texas” that can be found, a remarkable development for the man once branded “Lyin’ Ted” by then-candidate Trump during the heated presidential primary in 2016.
However, while Cruz may have set aside his differences with the president, he acknowledges that the Republican Party is divided. “There has been no issue that has consumed more of my time in the last two years than trying to bring Republicans together,” he told the crowd yesterday. His sharply divided legislative record proves it: according to Quorum, a legislative analytics firm, Cruz voted with Republican leadership less than ninety percent of the time; since his return to Senate after his failed presidential bid, he has voted with leadership one hundred percent. In addition, his Conservative Review Liberty Score has slipped to 88%.
Still, he had this advice for Republicans who may still be skeptical of President Trump: “Ignore the noise. Ignore the political circus. Ignore the tweets. Focus on the substance. Focus on the promises we made to the American people,” he said.
Nestled among the SUV’s, trucks, and luxury sedans, a small maroon pick-up truck sat in the parking lot of Faith West Academy with ‘We (heart) Lyin’ Ted!!!’ spray painted in white on the side of it. Whether that was a nod to President Trump or an embrace of the moniker by a Cruz supporter is unknown.
It was, however, one small sign of unity among supporters of the former rivals.