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Trump mocks Beto O'Rourke's "phony name." Did you know these politicians are using nicknames too?

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O'Rourke links Trump's rhetoric to shooting 04:58

On his way to visiting two cities shaken by mass shootings, President Trump on Wednesday posted a tweet mocking Robert Francis O'Rourke — better known as Beto O'Rourke — for using a "phony name." But the president has never said that about Addison, Willard and Rafael.

Who are they? They're three prominent Republican politicians who, like Beto, are all much better known by their nicknames.

Since his 2018 Senate race, Republicans have been spreading the false theory that O'Rourke adopted his nickname to pander to Hispanic voters. In fact, O'Rourke said he has been called Beto since he was a child, noting that it was a common nickname for Robert in his native El Paso. He even has a childhood photo to prove it, showing the future congressman as a toddler wearing a "Beto" sweater.

Regardless, though, O'Rourke is hardly the only politician using a nickname on the national stage. In fact, several of Trump's fellow Republicans have been doing the same thing for decades — including the one who ran against O'Rourke last year.

Did you know about these nicknames?

Ted Cruz — Rafael Edward Cruz

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Ted Cruz Getty

That's right — the Texas senator who narrowly defeated O'Rourke last year isn't using his real name either. Ted Cruz was born Rafael Edward Cruz — in Canada, no less. 

Politifact points out that in his autobiography, "A Time for Truth," Cruz said he stopped going by Rafael in junior high school. He said he first went by a different nickname, Felito, but classmates mocked him because it "seemed to rhyme with every major corn chip on the market," like Fritos and Cheetos.

"I was tired of being teased," Cruz wrote. "One day I had a conversation with my mother about it and she said, 'You know, you could change your name. There are a number of other possibilities.'" He said she listed several — and "Ted" was the one that stuck.

"It had never occurred to me that I had any input on my name," he wrote. Cruz said his father, a conservative, initially resisted the "Ted" nickname because it was used by Massachusetts Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, who was a liberal Democrat.

Mitch McConnell — Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr.

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Mitch McConnell AP

The man who leads the Senate is doing so with a nickname. Mitch McConnell was given his father's name, Addison Mitchell McConnell, when he was born in Alabama in 1942. 

He has apparently gone by Mitch for nearly his entire life. A high school yearbook photo lists his nickname as "Mitch." It also says "Mooch" — but in the Trump administration, that nickname went to the guy who was the White House communications director for 11 days.

Mitt Romney — Willard Mitt Romney

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Mitt Romney Reuters

The Utah senator — who was the GOP's nominee for president in 2012 — said he has been going by his middle name since kindergarten.

Romney's father was a close friend of J. Willard Marriott, the founder of the Marriott Hotel chain, and that's where his given name comes from. 

In an interview with CSPAN in 2006, Romney told a story similar to Cruz's, saying that childhood humiliation and a suggestion from his mom led to a new name. 

Romney said he went by Billy in kindergarten, but there was a "terrible song" at the time called "Oh Where Have You Been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Oh Where Have You Been, Charming Billy."

"I came home and said, I can't live with that name any longer," Romney said. "And I talked with my mom about what name I could use. She said, well, you could use your middle name. And so sometime in kindergarten I switched to Mitt and I have been on the Mitt name ever since."

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