Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and his political action committee supporters have spent more than $1 million in television advertising in Tennessee as a prelude to Tuesday’s presidential primary, some of it devoted to attacking Donald Trump, a review indicates.
The television ad total for Cruz and two supportive Super PACs substantially surpasses the apparent total of about $700,000 for all other Tennessee TV ad spending in support of presidential candidates combined, based on a review of filings by TV stations with the Federal Communications Commission as of Sunday, national media reports and other sources.
Here is a breakdown of the estimated TV ad spending in Tennessee:
–The Cruz campaign has spent about $598,000 within the state and also enjoys backing from two well-funded super PACs. One of them, Stand for Truth PAC, has spent about $297,000 and the other, Keep the Promise PAC, has spent close to $150,000 in Tennessee. Combined, they total more than $1 million spent on promoting Cruz or attacking his primary opponents — mostly Trump.
–Rubio’s campaign has spent about $88,000 statewide. The senator, endorsed by Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, is also backed by Conservative Solutions PAC, which has spent about $388,000 on Tennessee TV advertising. The pro-Rubio total is thus about $476,000.
–Trump, a billionaire who has relied substantially on his own fortune for funding, has spent a relatively modest $200,000 on Tennessee TV advertising.
–The two other Republican candidates still active in the presidential campaign, Ben Carson and John Kasich, have campaigned in the state but have no reported spending on TV campaign advertising.
Right to Rise, a super PAC supporting former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, had bought about $350,000 worth of TV advertising time in Tennessee, beginning its purchases on Feb. 1 — well ahead of other campaigns and PACs, which mostly waited until last week. But virtually all that was canceled before the ads actually ran when Bush withdrew from the race after his poor showing in South Carolina’s primary earlier this month.
–Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has spent about $180,000 on TV advertising in Tennessee, all in the Nashville and Memphis media markets where Democratic voters are most concentrated. She has personally campaign in the state, too. Sanders has not visited Tennessee and has spent no reported money on TV advertising within the state.
In Knoxville, FCC filings show about $250,000 in TV ad spending on behalf of Republican presidential candidates. Cruz and the two PACs backing him accounted for about $142,000 of that while Rubio and Conservative Solutions PAC combined had about $83,000 worth of TV ads. Trump’s spending in the Knoxville TV market was just $23,180, the reports indicate.
The Republican campaigns are loath to disclose which ads are running where for what they consider strategic reasons, though often the ads are posted on the Internet, candidate Facebook pages and the like.
A Rubio spokesman, for example, pointed a reporter to the campaign’s ad on Haslam endorsing Rubio — subject of a campaign news release and highly promoted otherwise — but declined to say what other Rubio ads are running in Tennessee. Representatives of the Cruz campaign, the engaged super PACs and Trump’s campaign did not respond to a reporter’s requests via email and phone calls last week for a listing of ads running in Tennessee.
Clinton’s campaign, facing no ad competition from Sanders, has in contrast sent out news releases announcing a “six-figure buy” of TV advertising within the state and pointed to two commercials being aired in the Memphis and Nashville markets. One, targeting black voters, has the candidate saying “something is just fundamentally broken” in equality when aspects of “systemic racism” remain. The other ad generally points to Clinton’s record of accomplishments as secretary of state, declaring that serving as president is “the toughest job in the world and she’s the one who’ll make a real difference for you.”
On the Republican front, simply watching TV and talking with others who do so around the state provides an indication of which ads are running within Tennessee and that they are following a pattern reported in the national media.
The Cruz campaign has a mix of ads; some made available on the Internet and some not. The one apparently aired most in Tennessee features a general listing of the candidate’s conservative views on issues and opposition to the Washington establishment. He also has ads attacking Trump as untruthful.
The super PACs backing Cruz have ads that are more harsh in attacking Trump. Stand for Truth has one ad, seen in Tennessee, that is similar to the Cruz campaign’s positive ad, showing the candidate walking with a shotgun over his shoulder and talking with voters. But another, apparently also aired in Tennessee, features clips of Trump saying Republicans are “too crazy,” that he is “pro-choice” on abortion and thinks Hillary Clinton is “a terrific woman.”
Keep the Promise, the other super PAC supporting Cruz, has an ad — aired in Knoxville, a viewer indicates — that touts Cruz as the candidate who will assure appointment of conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cruz appointees, the ad suggests, will support “state sovereignty,” “the Ten Commandments” and gun rights. Another ad attacks “TrumpCare,” likening Trump’s position on health care to that of President Barack Obama’s “Obamacare” and Clinton’s “Hillarycare.”
Other than the Haslam ad, Rubio is apparently spending most of his Tennessee campaign money on an ad likening the senator to President Ronald Reagan and declaring it time for the “children of Reagan” to assume leadership. Conservative Solutions PAC, which is supporting him, has ads devoted to comparing Trump to Rubio with Trump roundly criticized. One declares Rubio “an expert on foreign policy” while Trump “knows nothing” and has been supportive of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
A Trump ad aired in Tennessee basically portrays the candidate as fighting the established Washington order while touting his stance on immigration and combating terrorism without mentioning other candidates.