All right, I’ll give Ted Cruz's new Hillary Clinton ad credit for one thing, and one thing only: They managed to find a surprisingly convincing Hillary Clinton lookalike, and that’s not for nothing. Other than that, this commercial, which the Cruz campaign debuted on Thursday, is flagrantly dishonest and insulting to voters’ intelligence, just like the junior senator from Texas himself.
The spot depicts Clinton and her campaign team talking strategy in what looks like a bomb shelter but is presumably meant to be a campaign office. As a stern aide — who looks suspiciously like Huma Abedin — circles the table, and as Clinton herself listens in ominous silence, the strategists revel in how easy it will be to defeat Donald Trump in November.
“Our oppo file on Trump is ready to go,” one of them says, using a term most voters probably won’t recognize. “Once our friends in the media release their stuff, he’s toast.”
After rattling off a litany of damning evidence against Trump, they consider what will happen if Cruz gets the Republican nomination instead of the Donald. And of course, they're all worried that Cruz will be way harder to beat than Trump.
“How do we stop Ted Cruz?” the fake Huma Abedin shouts.
“I don’t think we can,” one of the strategists replies mournfully. The Clinton stand-in, shooting daggers at her team like a James Bond villain, stares at the dossier on Cruz in front of her, then slams it angrily. Cut to black.
There are a lot of problems with this ad. First and foremost, it’s too damn long. It clocks in at two and a half minutes, and let’s not kid ourselves: Other than political operators and journalists, nobody who isn’t already crazy for Cruz would ever spend that much time watching a single political advertisement. There’s a reason most campaign spots are thirty seconds or, at most, a minute.
Furthermore, a lot of the criticisms the ad hurls at Trump could just as equally apply to Cruz (“He plays fast and loose with the facts,” “he’s only concerned with himself,” and so on). The commercial is peppered with bad jokes — at one point, the Clinton impersonator shoots daggers at an aide for calling her “Mrs. Clinton” instead of “Madam Secretary — and by and large, it’s just very repetitive and boring.
The most dishonest thing about it, however, is the implication that Clinton and her team are just terrified at the prospect of going against Cruz in a general election. That’s a preposterous suggestion, because in hypothetical general election match-ups, Clinton consistently defeats Cruz, sometimes by double digits. The last poll has her beating him by 10 points. The last two polls before that show her up by 8 points. In fact, Clinton has outpolled Cruz in 20 of the last 21 surveys polls; the exception was a poll from late March in which they tied.
None of this is to say that Cruz couldn’t reverse this trend and pull off an upset. But to imply that Team Clinton is actually afraid of a Cruz candidacy is either delusional or dishonest, or perhaps a little of both.