Love it or not, robocalls are gaining traction in the Republican primary race for president in the 2016 Elections.
One such pro-Ted Cruz super PAC robocall targeted scores of homes in South Carolina last week ahead of the state’s GOP primary. The message was aimed at the party’s frontrunner, Donald Trump, over his support for removal of the Confederate flag over the summer. However, despite the aggressive automated calls, allegedly another “attack” effort against Trump, the move to shore up Senator Cruz appear to have backfired.
According to an NBC News report, a minute-long robocall took many South Carolinians by surprise on Thursday. A recording of Trump’s voice led the call.
“Let it go. Put it in a museum. Respect whatever it is that you have to respect because it was a point in time.”
It was followed by an ad narrator’s voice in a short message that spoke to the heart of a hot-button and emotionally-charged issue.
“That’s Donald Trump supporting Nikki Haley removing the battle flag from the Confederate memorial in Columbia. Donald Trump talks about our flag like it’s a social disease.”
— Canadian (@onorPeaks) February 20, 2016
Courageous Conservatives is the super PAC behind the last-ditch effort to inform prospective voters about an issue that was designed to be the tipping point among undecided residents and others with a vested interest in the state’s culture. According to the group’s head, Rick Shaftan, 180,000 homes — mostly to registered voters of past primaries — received robocalls. On Friday, another wave of calls was made in support of Ted Cruz.
Pro-Ted Cruz robocall calls Confederate flag “our flag” https://t.co/XKKAvm1hYc pic.twitter.com/UVyUvvIGUb
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) February 19, 2016
A poll taken days before the Republican primary showed that as many as 70 percent of voters are sympathetic to the Confederate flag and support its place in the state. Ironically, a large share of the vote went to Trump, not Cruz as predicted.
Governor Nikki Haley endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio last week. Haley led the fight against the flag months ago after a movement gained steam over the summer in support of its removal. She led the effort to remove the “divisive symbol” after a white shooter killed several African-Americans in a church during a prayer service. The gunman’s social media page revealed his ties to white supremacist groups.
Many of the state’s residents expressed disdain over the governor’s move, and some political pundits expected her endorsement to fall short. In the end, the Trump machine prevailed; the former Reality TV personality won 32.5 percent of votes cast and won 50 delegates at stake, according to Daily Mail.
“A lot of people are very upset with Nikki Haley for that decision. People feel very strongly about that. It’s not the right thing to do, especially among conservative Republicans,” Shaftan added over the flag wrangling.
Like many others, Shaftan said he was taken aback when he learned about Trump’s characterization of the flag and his injection of the matter into the presidential campaign. He contrasted the real estate mogul’s rhetoric with Ted Cruz, who, at the time, took a neutral stance and yielded to the state’s electorate. Cruz advocated leaving the matter in the hands of voters, and he said lawmakers should resist all efforts to politicize the matter.
“People feel very strongly about it here, especially Trump supporters. That’s what surprised me — to see people who support the flag also supporting Trump. We’re trying to reach those folks who are having second doubts [about Trump],” Shaftan said.
Not only did the robocall measure fail to resonate with voters against support of Trump, but another paradox occurred that took many by surprise. According to exit-polls, Evangelical voters in South Carolina gave nods of support to Donald Trump despite Ted Cruz’s strong religious affiliation. The question is: Can anything stop Trump at this point?
Still, the super PAC is expected to run similar strategies in other states ahead of Super Tuesday.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]