2016 ad wars begin: Cruz campaign to air first TV ads during Easter weekend

02:26 - Source: CNN
Is Ted Cruz 'likeable enough' to be President?
Des Moines, Iowa CNN  — 

Ted Cruz, who wants to revive the evangelical voter turnout of the 2004 presidential election, will run his first television ads this Easter weekend during programs about Christianity — becoming the first declared 2016 hopeful to go up on TV airwaves.

Voters watching “Killing Jesus” on Fox News this weekend — a program based on Bill O’Reilly’s book and which first aired on the National Geographic Channel — will see the ads, the campaign confirmed Friday.

His team also bought local ad time on Sunday in the early presidential voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada for NBC’s “A.D.: The Bible Continues.”

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The campaign is spending $33,000 on the 30-second spot, which features Cruz talking about the impact of the “​transformative love of Jesus Christ” on his life. Details of the ad were first reported by Politico and the Washington Post.

After announcing his presidential bid last week at Liberty University — a widely known Baptist University — Cruz has been on the road courting voters in the early states. Thursday night he capped off a two-day trip to Iowa, a state known for its vocal and active evangelical core of voters.

He’s also been one of the biggest defenders of the Indiana religious freedom law that’s seen a wave of criticism from those who say it could lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

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Cruz forcefully argued this week that the outrage over the law is an “assault” on the First Amendment.

“There are a lot of people here in Iowa and across the country whose hearts are breaking watching what has happened in the last two weeks,” Cruz said Friday night. “We have seen a grossly unfair vilification of religious liberty.”

Cruz will spend Friday and Saturday campaigning in South Carolina.