Mar 23, 2015 3:41 AM

White House Brief: Things to know about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Texas Sen. Ted Cruz became the first high-profile Republican to enter the 2016 race for president on Monday. Here's a quick snapshot with key things to know about Cruz.



Ted Cruz is a man in a hurry. He won election to the Senate in 2012 as a political rookie, riding a tea party wave to upset a candidate with decades of experience and deep connections inside the Republican Party. He's proceeded since with the same disregard for the GOP establishment, at times maneuvering quixotically in the Senate to mount an aggressive opposition to President Barack Obama. It's an approach that has annoyed fellow Republicans Arizona Sen. John McCain famously labeled Cruz as one of the Senate's "wacko birds" but Cruz is unapologetic. As he recently told voters in New Hampshire, "If you see a candidate who Washington embraces, run and hide." He even announced his candidacy hours ahead of the planned launch, in a post-midnight Twitter message Monday.



Prior to his election to the Senate, Cruz's career was centered on practicing law at the highest level. A graduate of Harvard Law School and former clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Cruz led a Houston-based firm's Supreme Court practice, taught such litigation at the University of Texas and was charged with representing the state before the high court as its solicitor general. He also served in the George W. Bush administration, at both the Federal Trade Commission and as an associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department.



The son of a Cuban immigrant and American mother, Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, on Dec. 22, 1970, while his parents were working in the oil business. He's since renounced his Canadian citizenship, and lawyers from both parties have said they think he's eligible to run for president. He and his wife Heidi, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, live in Houston with their two daughters, Caroline and Catherine. His father is now a Texas pastor who draws plenty of his own attention, saying in the past that Obama is a "Marxist" who should be sent "back to Kenya."



For 21 hours and 19 minutes in September 2013, Cruz stood in the Senate to urge Congress to cut off money for Obama's health care law. The marathon speech, which included Cruz reading the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham" to his daughters, said to be watching their father at home, was partly behind a 16-day partial government shutdown the next month. He later joked the speech featured hours of "my favorite sound" his own voice.

The tactic was a hit among Cruz's tea party supporters, who are excited by his entry into the 2016 race. Cruz "will excite the base in a way we haven't seen in years," said Amy Kremer, the former head of the Tea Party Express. But Cruz's uncompromising approach has won him few friends in the Senate. In December, when Cruz defied party leaders to force a vote on Obama's executive actions on immigration, he again drew fire: "I fail to see what conservative ends were achieved," said Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake.



Cruz played to his audience in New Hampshire recently, quoting from the state motto and saying: "To value liberty and freedom above all else live free or die. That sums up what it means to be an American." But in Iowa, he spoke out against the federal standard for renewable fuel production, a key incentive for consumption of ethanol and therefore important to Iowa agriculture. He said he has "every bit of faith that businesses can continue to compete, continue to do well without going on bended knee to the government."



"A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Miracle of America" will be released at the end of June. Cruz says the book will feature vignettes about Anwar Sadat, Elie Wiesel and others who "had the courage" to speak out even at risk to themselves. In 2013, a St. Louis publisher also released a children's coloring book, "U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz to the Future," that features a cover with Cruz and a flourishing tea plant whose stalks are stenciled with "Ten Commandments" and "U.S. Constitution." It has leaves that include "Gun rights," ''Free Enterprise," and "Lower Taxes."



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