Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour thinks it was President Donald Trump that may be experiencing blowback from his 2016 campaign attacks against members of his own party.
During a "Politics Nation" conversation Sunday, Nikpour told MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton that Texas is a "red state" and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shouldn't be having such a hard time running for reelection.
"Let me tell you something: Ted Cruz should be miles ahead of Mr. O'Rourke," she said about Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is running barely behind Cruz in some polls.
"The reason he's not is because -- what do you think of when you think of Ted Cruz because of Donald Trump? You think of 'Lyin' Ted,'" she continued. "You can't get that out of your mind. He comes with a label and that label is 'Lyin' Ted!' And I think he's damaged--"
Sharpton interrupted to ask if Trump will give the endangered Senator a new label during Monday's rally in Texas.
"This should be a no-brainer because we should not have to spend so much money in this district to keep this Senator," Nikpour explained. "And part of the problem is Donald Trump, in the primary, he damaged Ted Cruz's brand. Because, Ted Cruz, you can't look at the guy and think, 'Ugh, Lyin' Ted. Well, a lot of Republicans, they love Trump. They love Greg Abbot. But they may not be sold on Lyin' Ted."
The blame is curious since Sen. Cruz became a GOP enemy long before Trump came along.
"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life," said former Speaker John Boehner in April 2016.
He isn't the only one. Even Trump pal Lindsey Graham joked about murdering Cruz.
"If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," Graham said in Feb. 2016.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) went another route thinking about a potential Cruz presidential nomination. He said he'd simply kill himself instead.
"I hate Ted Cruz, and I think I'll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination," King said April 2016. He later told CNN in an interview he was just kidding and he probably wouldn't kill himself.
While Cruz has come under fire from the more moderate wing of the GOP, conservatives hate him just as much. Ann Coulter
"Just look at Cruz's face: it's got career scum politician, aka liar, written all over it," the BBC cited Coulter saying in the winter of 2016.
Perhaps it isn't Donald Trump that ruined Ted Cruz's brand, but Ted Cruz himself.
Trump will arrive in Texas Monday for a rally for Cruz. He promised he'd have the biggest rally with the most people, but has faltered in his promise. Trump will appear at a "smaller than billed venue" that holds only 8,000 people, the Houston Chronicle reported last week. Beto O'Rourke, by contrast, had 50,000 people to see Willie Nelson support the Congressman's efforts to top Cruz.
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