In a candid interview with The Atlantic, Heidi Cruz discussed the ways her life has been shaped by the political pursuits of her husband, Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Texas Republican faces a re-election challenge from Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who despite record fundraising totals, has lost momentum in the polls. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.
In a striking portrait of what it means to be a political spouse, Cruz said she had to grapple with her place in the world as she made sacrifices for her husband’s advancement. Here are five takeaways from the interview:
1. Despite his wife’s struggle with depression, Ted Cruz never considered leaving Texas: Heidi Cruz coped with depression after she sacrificed her career and her childhood dream to work in Washington to move to Texas with her husband. She gave him her blessing to seek his first political office as Texas solicitor general in part because she didn’t think he’d get it, she told the magazine. She struggled with having lost some of her agency after she gave up her position working for Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council and faced the difficult task of building a new reputation in the world of finance at Goldman Sachs.
Still, Ted Cruz told the magazine the couple never considered moving back to the Beltway.
Heidi Cruz’s low point came when a concerned passersby reported a woman sitting on the side of the freeway with her head in her hands in 2003.
At a religious retreat, she became resolute in a new sense of self when she came to view her husband’s political career as part of God’s purpose for her life.
“God’s gonna use you to do something beyond yourself. You just let God take you to Texas, you let him take you wherever,” a counselor told her.
Thirteen years later, she took leave from her career in finance to work on her husband’s political campaign.
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Heidi Cruz found she was an asset to winning over wobbly donors, but still had moments when she lost her sense of purpose, like when her flight was rerouted “to have a meeting with a bunch of pastors at the hot-dog stand in the Des Moines, Iowa, airport.”
When the reporter asked Heidi what she wishes she had known, she replied, “I would say to younger women: Be intentional about your decisions.”
2. She only helps Ted Cruz’s campaign on the weekends: The 2016 Republican presidential primaries were grueling for Heidi Cruz in a way few political spouses experience. In the space of two days, as polls showed her husband and Donald Trump in a close race, an unverified tabloid story alleged Ted Cruz had cheated on her with five women, and Trump shared a supporter’s tweet — that showed an unflattering photo of her alongside future first lady Melania Trump — with his millions of followers.
Now back at work in a “competitive” position at Goldman Sachs, Cruz has taken a step back from her husband’s re-election race against O’Rourke.
“I help out on the weekends where I can,” she said.
3. On the unverified tabloid story alleging Ted Cruz had five affairs: “You do have a moment of doubt”: Heidi Cruz said she “literally laughed” when she first saw the National Enquirer story alleging the senator had slept with five women outside his marriage. But encountering the magazine firsthand during a trip to the grocery store had an emotional impact.
“And I called my mom and I was like, ‘This actually is out there. Like, this is really a thing. It hasn’t bothered me, but now I’m seeing this — do you think people read this? Do you think people believe this?’” she recalled. “So you do have a moment of doubt.”
National Enquirer owner David Pecker is a staunch Trump supporter.
4. It was Ted Cruz who insisted that Trump pull from a list of Federalist Society picks for the Supreme Court: According to Heidi Cruz, as Trump considered nominees to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, it was Ted Cruz who persuaded him to consider only deeply conservative judges who appeared on a list compiled by the Federalist Society. According to a June Reuters report, the only Republican senator who met with the president in the days following Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement was Iowa’s Charles E. Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
5. Despite the insults, she voted for Trump: Recently, a super PAC released an ad needling Ted Cruz for establishing a working relationship with the president despite the insults Trump lobbed at his wife. But Heidi Cruz told the magazine she doesn’t regret voting for Trump.
She described the couple’s deliberations in the days leading up to the senator’s endorsement: “What I did talk to Ted about … was if we support him and he ends up not being a conservative — not appointing conservative justices, not doing tax reform — are we part of a damaging decision in history?”
Ted Cruz “has kept his integrity intact,” his wife said.
Watch: Tuesday’s Texas Senate Debate in 4 Minutes