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Big Ethanol Is Not Ready Yet To Make Nice With Ted Cruz

In other Cruz news, a super PAC supporting the candidate staffs up in a number of Midwestern states and Democrats use hats try to tie Cruz to Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate Ted Cruz at a presidential town hall hosted by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., (r.) at Furman U…

The ethanol lobby in Iowa is not letting up on Ted Cruz.

America's Renewable Future, a renewable fuels advocacy group, announced Tuesday morning it is bolstering its anti-Cruz effort with two new ads, one for radio and the other for the Web. The organization has been hammering the Texas senator for weeks, accusing him of favoring the oil industry over farmers in Iowa, the first-in-the-country caucus state.

Both of the new spots suggest the GOP presidential candidate is not nearly as committed to ending oil subsidies as much as he is to getting rid of the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets the minimum amount of ethanol that must be blended into the U.S. gasoline supply.

"Iowa farmers will not fall for Ted Cruz's Washington lies," a narrator says in the online video, which is titled "Ted Cruz (R-Oil)." "He is bought and paid for by the oil companies."

Cruz's campaign insists he wants to eliminate all energy subsidies. It has asked Iowa radio stations to take down a previous ad from America's Renewable Future, calling the group's claims "blatantly false."

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A super PAC supporting Cruz is staffing up in the Midwest as it seeks to bolster its ground game in the early voting states and beyond.

Keep the Promise PAC announced Tuesday morning that it has hired two consultants to lead its efforts in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and a number of other Midwestern states. The operatives, Holly Gerard and Philip Jackson, are both from Oklahoma.

Gerard and Jackson have been tasked with identifying and turning out Cruz supporters across the Midwest. They will organize a team of field directors as well as paid and unpaid canvassers, according to the group.

Keep the Promise PAC is one of the four main super PACs supporting Cruz, an umbrella organization that already has staff in Iowa and South Carolina. Officials with the groups have said they are focused on setting up a far-reaching field operation, eschewing TV advertising for now.

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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush was set to return to Texas today to raise money for his campaign.

The former Florida governor is scheduled to attend a breakfast reception in El Paso, three days after the fifth GOP debate in Las Vegas. The fundraiser costs at least $250 to attend, according to an invitation.

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Democrats are getting creative as they seek to tie Cruz to his bombastic rival in the Republican race for the White House, Donald Trump.

Correct the Record, a super PAC backing Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, has sent one of Trump's signature hats — "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" emblazoned on it — to Cruz's campaign headquarters in Houston. But the group added another phrase — "RELIGIOUS TESTS" — to highlight Cruz's comments suggesting the United States should favor Christians over Muslims in accepting refugees from Syria.

The hat is part of an effort by Correct the Record and other Democratic groups to show many GOP hopefuls are not that different from Trump, who has called for banning Muslim immigration to the United States. The group said Monday it has mailed customized hats to several Republican candidates.

"Though Donald Trump’s Muslim-bashing rants are the loudest, you’re equally responsible for the creation of a deeply disturbing atmosphere in America," Correct the Record said in a letter also sent to Cruz. "You support Trump’s fear-mongering and you imitate his efforts with hateful proposals of your own. We hope this hat will help you to show the American people your true colors. You act like Trump; now you can look like him too."

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U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, cut a $5,000 check to Democratic congressional candidate Dolly Elizondo on Monday.

Gillibrand is an advocate for women running for office, and this is the first overt sign that women in national politics are getting involved in the race to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa of Edinburg.

The biggest question hanging over this primary race is whether EMILY's List, an organization that backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, will get involved. The group is widely considered the best fundraising interest group in national politics.

Gillibrand came up through the ranks of the U.S. House and Senate as an EMILY's list endorsee. The money came from her "Off The Sidelines" leadership PAC, according to an aide.

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Republican presidential candidate George Pataki has an explanation for why he did not qualify for the Texas primary: He's just planning to win elsewhere.

That's what the former New York governor told reporters Tuesday night as they peppered him with questions about his failure to meet filing deadlines in a number of states. Pataki and another bottom-tier candidate, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, missed the cut Monday to place their names in the mix for Texas' March 1 primary.

"I'm just going to keep going" and try to win other nominating contests, Pataki told reporters after the fifth GOP debate in Las Vegas.

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