AUSTIN, Texas – He's known for coloring outside the lines in the staid U.S. Senate. Now children large and small can color in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Just in time for the holidays, St. Louis publisher Really Big Coloring Books Inc. is offering a coloring and activity book featuring the Texas tea party darling.
Company founder Wayne Bell said Thursday the book is already in its third printing after just six days. The first run of around 10,000 sold out in barely 24 hours, and the second went nearly as fast.
"At this point, I would almost call it a phenomenon," Bell said. "It's beyond us. We're just trying to catch up with the printing."
"U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to the Future" is intended for "all ages." Cruz did not cooperate in its production.
The cover features the beaming senator pointing at a flourishing tea plant whose stalks are stenciled with "Ten Commandments" and "U.S. Constitution." It has leaves that include "Gun rights," ''Free Enterprise," and "Lower Taxes."
At the top is a leaf reading "White House," and the plant is growing on a lawn and root system that spell out "Grass Roots," a reference to Cruz's wild popularity with conservative activist groups.
Cruz only took office in January but is already frequently mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential contender.
He is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment and the book shows him hunting. It also features Cruz's marathon, 21-hour speech on the Senate floor opposing the White House-backed health care law. It says of that effort: "A lot of the career establishment politicians are far too out of shape, old or overweight to even perform such a magnificent feat."
The book has pictures of him alone and with his wife Heidi and two young daughters. There are also excerpts of the Ten Commandments and Cruz trivia.
Bell said his company has received some offensive and even threatening calls since the book's debut. It also produced a top-selling 2008 coloring book on President Barack Obama's inauguration, though a second edition produced in 2012 flopped.
The company also offers an Occupy Wall Street coloring booking and a free online coloring page on October's partial government shutdown.
Bell said a non-political title, "The Big Book of Dinosaurs," was traditionally the company's most-popular book, with more than 1 million copies sold. But he said the 2008 Obama book outsold it, and that a more-recent title, the "Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids" broke even that record.
Tongue planted firmly in check, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said, "We hope all who enjoy the book color it in bright bold colors, and not pale pastels, just as Ronald Reagan would have wanted." Cruz often accuses the GOP mainstream of painting in pastels instead of making bold moves.
Bell, meanwhile, laughed when asked if the company recommended only coloring the book using red, white and blue.
"We sell a lot of crayons," he said. "And I would use any color you want."