Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is known for being one of the most disliked men in Washington. As he tries to win over voters, his wife Heidi Cruz is trying to vouch for his character and show people that he has a softer side.
During one of his famously long Senate speeches in 2013, Cruz talked about a time when his wife was heading off on a business trip, and got into a car wreck on the way to the airport. He said she got on the plane anyway, not realizing until hours later that she had a concussion and a broken bone.
Cruz said he told his wife he wished she'd called him right away, but expressed admiration for her strength.
"You know it's the virtue of marrying strong women who know what they want and are able to tackle the world," Cruz said.
On the campaign trail, Cruz also extols his wife's more traditional virtues.
"She is a phenomenal mom to our two little girls, Caroline and Catherine, who are the joys of our life," he said. "And she's my best friend in the whole world."
The Cruzes often tag-team during campaign stops, like one at a restaurant in Keokuk, Iowa, in October.
Heidi Cruz told the crowd that she thinks the media are "scared to death" of her husband — but that she really knows him.
"Ted is incredibly sincere and thoughtful. And I want you to know as his wife, someone who knows him better than anyone else, he's that way at home, too," she said.
She describes her husband as someone who never forgets a birthday and enjoys reading stories with their daughters. The couple met while working on the George W. Bush campaign in 2000. Heidi Cruz often says it was "love at first sight," and that she was drawn to his strong beliefs — in the Bible and the Constitution.
"In our late 20s, Ted knew what he believed — and what he believed then and what he was doing then was the exact same thing that he believes now and is doing now," she said.
Behind the scenes, Heidi Cruz has been busily fundraising for her husband for months. She took a leave of absence from the investment firm Goldman Sachs to work on the campaign.
That connection has been a source of criticism for Ted Cruz, who was elected to the Senate in 2012 as a Tea Party conservative and a critic of the federal bailout of Wall Street.
The scrutiny intensified after it came to light that Cruz had used loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank to fund that campaign. In an interview, Heidi Cruz said she doesn't see a contradiction.
"Ted and I were both against the bailouts, but not against Wall Street, not against any industry," she said. "We are against government intervention into the industries in this economy."
Given her husband's reputation for alienating even his Republican colleagues, Heidi Cruz is often asked about his personality. She says it doesn't matter what people in Washington think, since he's popular with conservative voters.
But it's not just Washington. Some of Cruz's former classmates, including a college roommate, have come forward to describe him as "abrasive," "arrogant," and even "creepy." Heidi Cruz suggests the problem is with her husband's critics.
"We all went to college; we all found our circle of friends and some people we got along with better than others," she said. "Ted is outspoken; he's a person of principle. Even as a teenager, he was a person that didn't look around the room just to be popular. And for people that do, they might find that unlikable that he's gonna stick to his guns."
At campaign stops, voters seem to find Heidi Cruz likable. In Emmetsburg, Iowa, on Friday, Bobbie Clark of Algona said she's already imagining her as the nation's First Lady.
"She's just alive and vibrant and wicked smart." Clark said. "I mean you'd have to be to be married to Ted."
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