For Some SuperPACs Backing Ted Cruz, It's Time To Unite Against Trump Ted Cruz's candidacy is now supported by a total of seven superPACs, several with different missions. The newest one is trying to consolidate their power against the GOP front-runner.
NPR logo

For Some SuperPACs Backing Ted Cruz, It's Time To Unite Against Trump

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/471762400/471762401" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
For Some SuperPACs Backing Ted Cruz, It's Time To Unite Against Trump

For Some SuperPACs Backing Ted Cruz, It's Time To Unite Against Trump

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/471762400/471762401" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Super PACs don't have a great track record in the 2016 presidential race. Jeb Bush was backed by more than $100 million in super PAC spending and still flamed out. Ted Cruz is counting on a different fate, insisting that he can overtake Donald Trump with an alliance of super PACs. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The guy in charge of the Bush super PAC is Washington lawyer Charles Spies. His conclusion from the primaries...

CHARLES SPIES: If you are running against a reality television star who can generate billions of dollars of earned media, the utility of super PAC funds is greatly diminished.

OVERBY: As for the Ted Cruz super PAC alliance, Spies described it this way.

SPIES: The unique structure that my understanding is - was set up because donors wanted to have more control over how their funds were spent.

OVERBY: But in the Cruz alliance, it's hard to remember all the different super PACs without a scorecard. Taking a deep breath here - Keep the Promise PAC, Keep the Promise I, Keep the Promise II, Keep the Promise III, Keep the Promise to Veterans and Stand for Truth. They have their specialties. One does events where Cruz can show up, another does digital and social media and so forth. Three of them are funded mainly by one or a few donors. One PAC seems to depend heavily on donors who give through corporate accounts, confusing - yeah, even the super PACs thought so. Kellyanne Conway is a Republican pollster who runs Keep the Promise I.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Donors who may have said, well, you have all these pro-Cruz super PACs. Which one should I give to? Do the ones that are run by wealthy families even need my money? Which one is doing radio? Who's doing digital? Who's doing TV?

OVERBY: So now most of the super PACs have consolidated under Trusted Leadership, which itself is a super PAC. Conway heads up that one as well. She said the alliance has made fundraising easier as the groups solicit former donors to Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio PACs. The alliance also streamlines operations for the big push to the convention.

CONWAY: There's very little time to plan and react. It's a little bit more pants on fire now.

OVERBY: Not all of the Cruz super PACs joined the alliance and neither did Courageous Conservatives PAC. Here's one of its ads.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CATINA WRIGHT: My name is Catina Wright from Franklin County, Va.

OVERBY: Catina Wright said she had read all of Donald Trump's books.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WRIGHT: Couldn't wait for him to run for president and took a half a day off from work to go to a Trump rally. But halfway through, I was appalled and embarrassed that I was supporting this man.

OVERBY: She went on.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WRIGHT: I want to apologize for my few months of temporary insanity supporting Donald Trump. God help our country if this man wins.

OVERBY: And she endorsed Cruz. Meanwhile, those Cruz super PACs in the new alliance have spent $22 million so far. That's according to the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute. But then there's Keep the Promise II, which is not in the coalition. It's funded by Texas investor Toby Neugebauer. He gave $10 million. It's only spent one million. CNN reported that Keep the Promise II is holding back 'til the winner-take-all primaries this spring. But those primaries have already started. Again, Charles Spies from the Bush super PAC.

SPIES: If you are going to dedicate resources that way, it might have made sense to spend some money in Ohio, for example.

OVERBY: Ohio went for its governor, John Kasich. And Keep the Promise II is still sitting on $9 million. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.