My encounters with Ted Cruz

It was two summers ago and I was sitting in on a U.S. Senate committee hearing regarding campaign finance. This was my first time in a Senate committee hearing, and I was excited to be in the meeting with important Senators and decision makers. I accidentally sat in the wrong chair, and everyone noticed that I was the intern in the wrong place. Especially one particular senator, who stared at me with his penetrating black eyes. It was Sen. Ted Cruz.

At the time, I was working for Sen. Chuck Grassley and sitting in on hearings where Grassley testified. Cruz was also testifying at the hearing, exclaiming how ridiculous it is to regulate campaign financing. He was explaining with great bravado that limiting campaign financing was equivalent to eliminating the first amendment. Around the room, other senators, especially Democrats, were actually trying not to laugh in their seats. Sen. Ted Cruz was performing a monologue that would be better on a soap opera than in this committee hearing. I honestly couldn’t believe someone who was supposed to be so professional could act out in such a way; he was shouting across the aisle like someone had accused him of murder.

From that moment on, I wanted to research Sen. Ted Cruz. From his icy stare at me because I sat in the wrong seat at the hearing, to the media attention he was getting, and finally to watching his testimony, I thought he might be an interesting sort, almost similar to a Frank Underwood. (At the time, I was obsessed with House of Cards). After all, constituents were rallying around Cruz, but the senators at the hearing almost seemed to mock his grandiosity. Through a simple Wikipedia search, I discovered that Cruz was brilliant; he attended Princeton University and Harvard Law school. His professors, even if they didn’t agree with him, believed he was one of the most intelligent pupils they have ever had the liberty to teach. He was the best at debate, and won national awards for his expertise in speaking. That explained his impassioned testimony at the judiciary hearing.

The next time Ted Cruz came up in conversation, I was sitting with a Republican member of congress. I asked about Ted Cruz, and about Republicans running for president. The congressman sighed, he also didn’t carry any affection for Cruz. He said that the only person Cruz cared about was himself and making President Obama look bad. I figured as much.

Four months later, I was behind the scenes at the Iowa Agriculture Summit. I was waving at every single potential presidential candidate behind the scenes just for fun. Gov. Rick Perry waved at me, and so did Sen. Rick Santorum, who even sat and chatted with me backstage. When I waved at Sen. Cruz, he pointed at me and gestured to his aide. He either recognized me, didn’t trust me, or just wanted to know why some girl behind the stage was waving at him. “Who’s that?” he asked. His aide, from the looks of it, just shrugged. A few minutes later, Cruz finally waved back to me, only before confirming that I wasn’t someone trying to make him look bad. He was calculated in his approach.

Sen. Ted Cruz is the front runner in the Iowa Caucus. He has drafted strategically behind Donald Trump, carefully not angering any of the Trump supporters, while simultaneously swooping in and stealing a few. Cruz is a staunch conservative, alienating himself from the establishment. He gives speeches in the way pastors give sermons. With 24 days left to go, Sen. Cruz is looking like the man to beat.