Campaign hawks shirtless, tattooed Cruz poster

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention MORE's (R-Texas) campaign is offering a poster of the 2016 contender shirtless, ripped and showing off several tattoos.

The "Blacklisted & Loving It Poster" promoting "Ted Cruz 2016" goes for $50.00 in the campaign's online store, which notes that it is "American Made."

The poster was originally designed by a street artist in Los Angeles, who calls himself Sabo. It's been in circulation for more than a year and sold by the artist on T-shirts and posters.

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"From [what] I understand [Cruz] asked his people if they were doing anything with the image I'd created and when they said no he asked why not," Sabo told The Hill in an email.

CJ Pearson, a 13-year-old activist and YouTube figure leading Cruz's effort to attract the youth vote, said the poster was part of two youth vote coalitions launched Tuesday.

"When we said we intended to capture the youth vote, we meant it. Moving towards posters like these resonates with Millennials and we will do whatever it takes to gain their much valued support," Pearson said in an email.

Cruz's campaign has purchased 200 of the original posters as well as 1,000 more that label the Republican as "Iran's Worst Enemy," along with other apparel, the artist said.

In the superimposed image, Cruz bears an eagle tattoo on his chest and a pair of pistol tattoos on his ribcage and stares forward, a cigarette hanging from his lips.

The artist's website said that Cruz had not provided any approval for the posters when they were first created, but Sabo told The Hill that Cruz has since signed off on them.

Cruz joked about the poster in March 2014, saying he noticed an error about it: "I wanted to make one thing clear: I don't smoke cigarettes."

Sabo said that while some Cruz allies had previously wanted to distance themselves from the artist based on his other work, Cruz himself emphasized that "the Constitution protects my right to speak my mind."

"If you know anything about me or my art you'd know that that not only took balls but a serious regard for this founding document and I appreciate him for doing that," the artist said.

A fundraising pitch first highlighted online late Tuesday included the Iran version of the poster, saying it was paid for by Cruz's campaign.

Unsolicited, Sabo also added in an email to The Hill that while he is not a "fan" of Republican rival Donald Trump, he appreciated the businessman "for forcing once taboo issues on the table."

This story was updated at 5:27 p.m.