Lindsey Graham put his cell phone in a blender. Rand Paul stuffed the tax code into a wood chipper. And on Monday, Ted Cruz became the latest Republican presidential contender to resort to a viral video to distinguish himself from his rivals.
The new video produced, by IJ Review, the conservative media outlet that brought you such hits as “How To Destroy Your Cell Phone with Lindsey Graham,” features Cruz demonstrating how to cook bacon the way he claims they do it in Texas. In the video, Cruz wraps a strip of bacon around the barrel of a machine gun, covering it in tin foil, then shooting at a target until the grease starts to drip onto the cement. Cruz then unwraps the tin foil and takes a fork to the sizzling meat. “Mmm, machine-gun bacon,” he says. Then he tilts his head back slightly and laughs.
It’s the latest move by the freshman senator from Texas to gain traction as the Republican primary season takes off in earnest this week. Though Cruz’s poll numbers ensure him a spot on stage at the first GOP debate on Thursday—where only the candidates polling in the top 10 will appear—his support has sagged recently. Polls show billionaire Donald Trump siphoning support from Cruz and other tea party-style candidates. Even Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is viewed as the main rival to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is pulling support from the tea party constituency that Cruz’s campaign is targeting. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll last month, Cruz’s support among Republican voters dropped by half between May and July, from 8 percent to 4 percent. During that timeframe Trump’s stock shot up from 4 percent to 24 percent and Walker’s crept up from 11 percent to 13 percent. The Post has Cruz’s polling average now at 5.8 percent, below the top tier of Bush, Walker, and The Donald, and on par with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, conservative neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. On the money front, however, Cruz has an early lead. A network of super PACs supporting his campaign pulled in a combined $36 million since January—second only to the $103 million haul of the pro-Bush super-PAC, Right to Rise.
So Cruz—perhaps taking a page from Trump, a master of self-promotion whose antics only seem to be fueling his rise in the polls—is getting attention any way he can. Last month, Cruz grabbed the media’s attention by taking to the Senate floor to call the GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar. Shortly thereafter, he said the Iran nuclear deal would make the Obama administration “the leading global financier of Islamic global terrorism.” When former presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized his rhetoric on Iran, Cruz welcomed the fight with the more moderate 2012 presidential contender, telling a Texas radio station, “one of the reasons Republicans keep getting clobbered is that we have leaders like Mitt Romney or like Jeb Bush who are afraid to say that.”
Though Cruz’s machine gun strategy makes sense for his campaign, it seems like a poor strategy for cooking bacon. The tasty grease is wasted, and you can only cook one strip at a time.