Ted Cruz: A GOP bid in Texas to win the Hispanic vote
The state's former solicitor general, running now for attorney general, hopes his Cuban heritage will be a plus with 'fundamentally conservative' Latinos.
The son of a Cuban immigrant, Mr. Cruz, 38, has degrees from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He was a champion college debater, clerked for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and has argued eight cases before the US Supreme Court. Among his victories in the high court, he defended the constitutionality of Texasâ€™ Ten Commandments monument and congressional redistricting. Last year, he completed 5-1/2 years as Texas solicitor general, the first Hispanic to hold that job and the youngest in the nation.
Now heâ€™s taking the plunge into electoral politics, and a GOP eager for fresh talent is applauding. For a party that dropped to only 31 percent of the Latino vote in the 2008 presidential race, so much the better that heâ€™s Hispanic.
But, as many a failed candidate knows, being the smartest man in the room doesnâ€™t guarantee election. Cruz has never run for office before, and his Cuban heritage may not give him an automatic in with Texasâ€™ largely Mexican and otherwise non-Cuban Hispanics. It also remains to be seen how an Ivy League hotshot will play with Joe Six-Pack.
But Cruz is enthusiastic. Heâ€™s raised more than $1 million since February and been endorsed by more than two dozen Texas and national GOP figures. On the stump, Cruz loves to tell his fatherâ€™s story â€“ how he fought in the Cuban revolution as a teen, then was thrown in prison and tortured. Eventually, the elder Cruz escaped Cuba, wound up in Austin, Texas, with $100 sewn into his underwear, and got into the University of Texas.
The story of American immigration, Cruz says in an interview, is the â€śbasic DNA of this nation.â€ť
â€śWe have for centuries been billed as a people who value freedom and opportunity above all else,â€ť he says. â€śThat also embodies the themes I think, as Republicans, we ought to be articulating.â€ť
Though the GOP has lost ground with Hispanics, Cruz believes it is â€śa fundamentally conservative community â€“ a community that deeply values faith and family and patriotism.â€ť Many Republican politicians are misguided in how they reach out to Hispanics, by advocating â€śa partial welfare state,â€ť he says. â€śThe Hispanic community wants social mobility and economic mobility that lets someone ... achieve the American dream.â€ť
Part of a series of articles on reshaping the Republican party.
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