Why is Ted Cruz — given name Rafael — picking on nicknames?

Supporters of senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke cheer during a Democratic watch party following the Texas primary election, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Eric Gay

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz isn't shying away from the obvious point being made about his ad deriding a Democratic challenger for using a nickname. Cruz uses a nickname too.

The Republican senator told CNN on Wednesday: "You're absolutely right. My name is Rafael Edward Cruz."

Shortly after the polls closed Tuesday in Texas' first-in-the-nation primary, Cruz tweeted a 60-second country jingle targeting his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke of El Paso. The jingle calls O'Rourke "liberal Robert" and says he "changed his name to Beto" from his given name of Robert.

Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, said one implied motive might be to remind Texas voters that O'Rourke isn't of Latino descent.

O'Rourke will need strong Latino turnout to pull an upset against Cruz in November.

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