Ted Cruz released an ad trying to attack Senate opponent Beto O’Rourke for his stance on the killing of Botham Jean, a black man killed by a white police officer who mistook Jean’s apartment for her own and shot him to death.
The tactic seems to have backfired, as the 90-second video clip has become something of a campaign ad for O’Rourke. In the video, O’Rourke is making an impassioned speech to a packed house at Good Street Baptist Church in Dallas, calling for justice for the slain man.
“How can it be, in this day and age, in this very year, in this community, that a young man, African-American, in his own apartment, is shot and killed by a police officer,” O’Rourke told the crowd. “And when we all want justice and the facts and the information to make an informed decision, what’s released to the public? That he had a small amount of marijuana in his kitchen.”
Many in the crowd rose to their feet in support of O’Rourke’s stance, which built into a standing ovation.
“This is not justice,” O’Rourke said. “This is not us. This can and must change.”
Ted Cruz thought that the speech would hurt O’Rourke, and posted a clip on Twitter with the caption “In Beto O’Rourke’s own words.” Instead, the clip seemed to drum up more support for O’Rourke and his stance on Jean’s shooting death. Others noted that Ted Cruz appeared to be trying to appeal to racists with the ad, and wondered how he could disagree with O’Rourke’s seemingly common-sense approach to the innocent man’s death.
What kind of people would think this video is an argument against @BetoORourke? People who approve of police brutality against African Americans. In other words, racists. That’s who @tedcruz is appealing to here. https://t.co/Pjx6oONxYW
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) September 22, 2018
This is not the first time that Ted Cruz’s camp has miscalculated an attack on his Senate opponent. Earlier in the campaign, Republicans put out a picture of a younger O’Rourke in a punk band in an attempt to make him seem out of touch with voters, but instead it seemed to boost the El Paso congressman’s popularity.
Maybe Beto can’t debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans… pic.twitter.com/LdqKTh3yK4
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
Some of O’Rourke’s supporters also responded by sharing some equally — if not more — embarrassing pictures of Ted Cruz dressed as a mime during his college years.
Ted Cruz is an angry little mime who keeps attacking Beto. pic.twitter.com/AMxsLNV3Wl
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) September 21, 2018
Ted Cruz’s attacks also don’t appear to be working with potential voters. Once considered a lock for re-election, Cruz has now found himself in a very tight race as O’Rourke ate away at his lead in polls and the two are now within the margin of error in the most recent polls.