Cruz in February 2016
Heidi Suzanne Nelson|
August 7, 1972
San Luis Obispo, California,
Claremont McKenna College|
Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management
Harvard Business School
Ted Cruz (m. 2001)
Heidi Suzanne Cruz (née Nelson; born August 7, 1972) is an American investment manager at Goldman Sachs. She served in the Bush White House as the economic director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, as the director of the Latin America Office at the U.S. Treasury Department, as Special Assistant to U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, and as economic policy advisor to George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. She is the wife of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
Heidi Nelson was born on August 7, 1972, in San Luis Obispo, California, to parents Suzanne Jane (née Rouhe), a dental hygienist, and Peter Christian Nelson, a dentist. Heidi Nelson was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. During a part of Nelson's childhood, she lived with her family in Kenya and Nigeria, and also Asia, where they served as missionaries, while both parents participated in dental health work.
Nelson attended Valley View Adventist Academy in Arroyo Grande, California, near her home town of San Luis Obispo. She completed her secondary education in 1990 at Monterey Bay Academy, an Adventist boarding school about 150 miles north in La Selva Beach, California.
Following high school, Nelson attended Claremont McKenna College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Economics and International Relations in 1994. While attending the school, she was active in the student Republican group. Prior to graduation, she studied abroad at the University of Strasbourg. In 1995, she received a Masters of European Business degree from Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management in Brussels, Belgium. Her second graduate degree was an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 2000.
In 2000, Nelson worked as an economic policy director on the Bush for President campaign, where she met her future husband Ted Cruz. Following her marriage to Cruz in 2001, she went on to work for the Bush Administration. She began as a top deputy to U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick, focusing on economic policy. Cruz worked as director of the Latin America desk at the Department of Treasury in 2002.
In 2003, Cruz reported directly to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Cruz eventually became the director for the Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council where she had Rice's ear. During a New York Times interview, Cruz recalled enjoying her tenure with the Bush administration and found her work to be "personally fulfilling."
After commuting between Washington, D.C. and her husband's home state of Texas for a year, she moved to Texas in 2004. Cruz later stated that she did not see the move as giving up her career but as a relocation.
In 2005, she went to work for Goldman Sachs as a private wealth manager. After serving at Goldman Sachs for seven years, Cruz was promoted in 2013 to regional head of the Southwest United States for the Investment Management Division in Houston.
From 2005 to 2011 she was an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was a member of the Independent Task Force on North America that in 2005 published a report entitled "Building a North American Community."
Role in 2016 presidential campaign
Cruz took a leave of absence without pay to participate in her husband's 2016 presidential campaign.
During the campaign, she made multiple solo public appearances, speaking on her husband's behalf. Former George W. Bush administration official Sara Taylor Fagen said she was successful in softening her husband's image, which she further argued was essential for "a candidate whose main obstacle to the Republican nomination may be tone and personality", though director of the SuperPAC Our Principles PAC Katie Packer argued her help could only go so far and voters would not support a candidate based on their spouse.
Early in her husband's campaign, Cruz's initial role was that of fundraiser, making calls to potential donors, and, in her words, seeking to "max out" investments to the Cruz campaign. Cruz' call list included donor names provided to her by a super PAC. Campaign chairman Chad Sweet compared Cruz's ability to make campaign calls to her time at Goldman Sachs, stating, "There are very few spouses who can get on the phone on a cold call to a prospective donor and make a more compelling case in a personal and effective way than Heidi Cruz."
Beginning in August 2015, Cruz regularly attended presidential debates in which her husband participated. When asked what her role would be as First Lady, she expressed an intent to raise "the standard of living for those at the bottom of the economic ladder in this country", explaining that her interests are on "the economic side". During a two-day trip to Alabama in November 2015, she delivered signatures and payment required for her husband to appear on that state's ballot at the Alabama Republican Party headquarters in Hoover. Cruz's comment that her husband had "maintained his voting record at the same time in the Senate" was interpreted as being a dig at Marco Rubio's record on voting during his own presidential campaign. Two months later in January, Cruz would reaffirm her husband's position and state the campaign was "of issues" and not "personalities", furthering, "We have great respect for all the candidates who have taken this great journey to try and make our country a better place." That month she also expressed her liking for Donald Trump's television series The Apprentice, an admiration noted while Trump was leading in Iowa polls along with her husband.
On December 3, Cruz returned to Texas and filed paperwork for her husband's name to appear on the state ballot. She acknowledged she had previously filed for his name on ballots in previous states, but also said the Cruz campaign had "a campaign strategy that's built to last, and we have built a grass-roots army that this country hasn't seen since Ronald Reagan." It was noted at this time by Patrick Svitek of The Texas Tribune that she had become more visible in the past few months after spending the initial months of the campaign playing a behind-the-scenes role, Cruz shortly afterward making televised, solo appearances on Fox Business Network and KTRK-TV. In January 2016, after her husband's eligibility to run for the presidency was questioned by several other Republicans, Cruz defended his legality, calling the questioning an indication of her husband winning and his contenders and detractors feeling a need to try to defame him as a result. Cruz called her husband's legality indisputable and noted Republican presidential candidates John McCain and George Romney were born in the Panama Canal Zone and Mexico. Cruz would further say that her husband had been cleared of any issue regarding his legality in the past, which contributed to her view that his eligibility would not hurt the campaign and that questions over if her husband was a natural born citizen was an "example of distractions."
Cruz stumped for her husband in Iowa ahead of that state's 2016 Republican caucuses, appearing in the state multiple times. Ted Cruz ultimately won the state, which she believed was due to "one strong voice of the people coming together". For New Hampshire, another early primary state, it was reported in January that she would make stops there to rally support for her husband. In February, Cruz was reported to be headlining a luncheon for Republican women in Reno, Nevada, days before the state's primary. For the South Carolina primary, she appeared on the campus of Lander University, dined with Governor Nikki Haley in an attempt to get her endorsement for the campaign, though she ultimately supported Marco Rubio, and appeared in Spartanburg.
Cruz's campaigning in Texas was viewed by commentators as essential to her husband's winning of his home state on Super Tuesday, her appearing in the state for the last few days prior to the contest. At the time of her campaigning in Texas, Ted Cruz was expected to win the state, the move being seen as the Cruz campaign not wanting to take any chances. According to Cruz, both she and her husband were confident about his prospects of winning. She emphasized the state as both her and her husband's home state. After Super Tuesday, Cruz's subsequently campaigned independently in North Carolina, Illinois, and MIssouri. She then substituted for her husband in Fayetteville, North Carolina, speaking at Fayetteville Technical Community College in promotion of him and canceling a visit to New Jersey in late March in order to instead appear jointly with her husband in Wisconsin. Weeks before the state primaries, Cruz appeared in Indiana and was reported to be appearing in Nebraska to gain early support for the campaign in both Fremont and Norfolk. In the last week of the campaign, after Carly Fiorina became the vice presidential candidate, Cruz made joint appearances with her. Ted Cruz dropped out of the primary after a loss in Indiana to Donald Trump on May 3. A week later, on May 10, Cruz urged supporters to be optimistic about the future.
Heidi Nelson met Ted Cruz while the two were working together on George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. The couple married on May 27, 2001. Subsequent to getting married in 2001, Cruz moved from Washington D.C. to Texas in 2004, and experienced a period of depression as a result of the transition to Texas. Cruz and her husband have two daughters, Caroline and Catherine.
Despite her Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing, Cruz is now Southern Baptist along with her husband, but continues to maintain a vegetarian diet as taught by her former denomination. She is a supporter of Houston-based Living Water International, a faith-based non-profit organization that helps communities in developing countries create sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs in response to the global water crisis.
In 2012, Cruz and her husband liquidated their net worth to finance Ted Cruz's senatorial campaign. In an interview, Cruz stated that due to her experience with Goldman Sachs, she saw financing the campaign with their financial assets as an investment. In January 2016, it was reported that her husband's campaign was also financed by a previously undeclared loan Cruz received from Goldman Sachs. She further stated that they had stalled their lives and finances for the 2012 senate campaign, concluding that, in her opinion, Texans were thankful.
- Pemberton, Patrick S. (April 18, 2015). "Heidi Cruz, a San Luis Obispo native, campaigns now as wife of a presidential candidate". The Fresno Bee. Fresno, California. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
While he aspired to high public office, his wife eventually bowed out of government, taking business jobs with private corporations such as JPMorgan Chase and investment banking firm Goldman Sachs.
- Diaz, Kevin (December 5, 2015). "Ted Cruz's secret weapon: Heidi Cruz". San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio, Texas. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
Heidi Cruz parlayed her campaign experience into a prestigious job as an assistant to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, right-hand man to Bush family consigliere James Baker.
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She reported directly to Condoleezza Rice while in the Bush administration. Heidi Cruz worked on the Latin America desk at the Department of Treasury in 2002. She was later appointed director of Western Hemisphere on the National Security Council, where she had Rice's ear.
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But she wanted a job in banking, having previously worked at J.P. Morgan.
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With 100% of precincts reporting, Cruz, came away with 1,239,158 votes, or 43.8% of the total. Donald Trump followed behind with 757,489 votes, or 26.7% of the vote. Cruz, one of the state's two U.S. senators, got the most votes in all but six of the state's 254 counties.
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*While Heidi Cruz was raised in a Seventh-day Adventist household, she now identifies with the Baptist faith of her husband Ted Cruz. An earlier version of this article misidentified Heidi Cruz as an Adventist.
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