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In First Ad, Santorum Mocks Cruz for ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ Reading

In his campaign's first TV ad, GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum mocks rival Ted Cruz for the Texas senator's reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" during a 2013 filibuster-like speech on the Senate floor.

"Ted Cruz is wonderful at reading children’s fairytales on the Senate floor," a narrator says in the ad, which will begin airing in Iowa this week.

Cruz famously read the Dr. Seuss classic during a marathon speech protesting President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Noting that the hour of his young daughters' bedtime was approaching, he addressed the poem directly to his children as his remarks were broadcast on CSPAN, instructing the girls afterwards to "brush your teeth, and say your prayers."

Santorum's new ad contrasts Cruz's speech with the former Pennsylvania senator's own tenure on the Senate Armed Services Committee and his rhetoric "taking on radical Islam."

"You want someone to read one helluva bedtime story, Ted Cruz is your guy," the narrator says. "If you want to protect America, and defeat ISIS, Rick Santorum’s your President. Because serious times need serious people."

Santorum, who narrowly won the Iowa GOP caucus in 2012, now trails Cruz badly in the all-important state, where Cruz has worked to consolidate Santorum's former coalition of evangelical and conservative voters.

NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.