Ted Cruz turns 45 on Tuesday, but the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been celebrating for weeks.
In email after email, the political arm of Senate Republicans — part of what Cruz has repeatedly derided on the campaign trail as the “Washington cartel” — has teased Cruz’s upcoming birthday to gin up new online supporters.
“Senator Ted Cruz’s birthday is here!” the NRSC wrote more than a week ago, urging supporters to sign a digital birthday card. “Senator Cruz turns 45 in TWO DAYS,” they reminded over the weekend.
The NRSC isn’t just hitting its existing fundraising lists with Cruz’s birthday reminders. They’re using the occasion to drum up new donors, renting out email files from Rick Perry and Mitt Romney and asking them to celebrate Cruz, too.
The reason: While Cruz may be a persona-non-grata at the weekly Senate Republican luncheons on Capitol Hill, he remains a powerful force in drawing small donors to a party that still lags far behind the Democrats when it comes to online fundraising prowess.
“Only in Washington would wishing someone a Happy Birthday be a story,” said NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek, when asked for comment.
Cruz is hardly the only presidential candidate whose birthday the NRSC has tried to ride for campaign cash. They repeatedly promoted the birthday of Ben Carson, one of the other most popular candidates among GOP grassroots givers, back in September. They’ve asked people to sign birthday cards for Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, too. And the NRSC has been hawking Donald Trump wares, including a t-shirt with a lithograph-style print of Trump’s face and the bolded text, “HUMBLE.”
There’s no question leveraging the names and celebrity of presidential candidates is smart digital politics. But some Cruz backers see the birthday excitement from the NRSC as hypocritical.
“We have seen this type of thing for years from the establishment. They pretend to be conservative in their campaigns, but then govern as liberals after the election,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a Cruz backer and president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has battled with the NRSC in past GOP primaries. “The truth is that anyone who supports Ted Cruz shouldn’t give a nickel to the NRSC. They have no interest in electing more senators like Ted. They want more wishy-washy moderates who will do whatever Mitch McConnell tells them to do.”
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