Marco Rubio wants Republican primary voters to know that reality TV stars like him, too.
Earlier this week, reality TV star turned GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump shored up his credentials with conservatives by snagging the endorsement of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who left office shortly after her 2008 vice presidential campaign to pursue a career outside of politics, namely with a show on TLC.
Not to be outdone, Rubio is out with a new television ad featuring Rick Harrison, the owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop from the show Pawn Stars.
In the ad, which will start running Thursday in the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Harrison calls Rubio the “real deal.”
Harrison first endorsed Rubio in June and has appeared at events for him in several states, according to the Florida lawmaker’s campaign.
The new ad is the latest sign that the GOP’s White House hopefuls take the clout of reality TV stars seriously.
The spot comes less than a week after Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), who is leading the polls in Iowa, revealed that Phil Robertson, the head of the family featured on the television show Duck Dynasty, was endorsing him.
“My qualifications for president of the United States are rather narrow: Is he or she godly, does he or she love us, can he or she do the job and, finally, would they kill a duck and put him in a pot and make him a good duck gumbo?” Robertson said in a video. “Cruz fits the bill.”
Cruz’s campaign will spend $700,000 to air the spot, which features him duck hunting with Robertson in camouflage makeup, during the NFL conference championship games this weekend.
By picking up endorsements from the stars of some of the biggest shows on basic cable in recent years, Republican contenders hope to boost their credentials with working- and middle-class families that make up the primary electorate.
Some critics have suggested that entire 2016 GOP primary could be viewed as reality TV show, given Trump’s past as an entertainer and his unexpected monopoly of public opinion polls.
But the arms race for reality TV star endorsements isn’t limited to just the GOP. In August, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton posed for a selfie with Kim Kardashian.