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Rubio-Linked Group Attacks Cruz on Foreign Policy

3 minute read

A nonprofit political group run by a supporter of Sen. Marco Rubio, is attacking rival Sen. Ted Cruz after the Paris terrorist attacks with a new ad criticizing the Texas conservative firebrand for his vote to end controversial government surveillance efforts.

The ad, by the 501(c)4 American Encore, which is not required to reveal its donors, is spending $200,000 to air the television ad on Iowa cable and broadcast networks over the next two weeks to blast Cruz for voting in favor of the USA Freedom Act, which curtailed the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata. Critics of the act contend that it removed a component of the U.S. intelligence arsenal used to track potential terrorists.

“Ted Cruz voted to weaken America’s ability to identify and hunt down terrorists,” the ad says, interspersing footage of bombs detonating with news reports from the Paris attack. It alleges that Cruz joined Obama, who supported the bill’s passage, rather than stand up to the president, adding that Cruz should stop “leading from behind.”

American Encore is the successor to the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which has taken in millions from organizations backed by the Koch Brothers. Sean Noble, the group’s president, has endorsed Rubio in his personal capacity, but said his group is not backing any particular candidate—just targeting Cruz.

“This is about educating people on the inconsistencies that Ted Cruz has demonstrated and I think like any crowded race, it probably helps a number of people,” he said of the ad. “All the sudden Cruz is trying to talk like Reagan, but he was cozying up previously with Obama on intelligence.”

Rubio opened a similar line of attack against Cruz last week after the attacks, suggesting his rival had weakened national security. Noble wrote off the similarities as coincidence, suggesting “If there’s any similarity on it, it’s because it’s a really blatant flip-flop on Cruz’s part.”

American Encore is the successor to a group formerly linked to the Koch Brothers network.

Cruz took the vote when the libertarian Sen. Rand Paul was expected to pose a larger threat to the nomination. American Encore previous attacked Paul in radio ads earlier this year.

Noble said the group is considering utilizing its resources to point out the inconsistencies with other candidates, but declined to specify who may be next. “There’ve been discussions about the inconsistent nature of Donald Trump,” he told TIME. “But our feeling is that Trump is ultimately not a serious contender. We don’t view him as a viable nominee. So we don’t think there’s a need yet.”

The Cruz campaign did not immediately return a request for comment on the ad.

Read More: Ted Cruz Blasts Marco Rubio on Immigration

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