Ted Cruz Bio

The Divisive Tea Party Republican's Campaign for President in 2016

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
Tom Pennington/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Ted Cruz is an attorney and Republican U.S. senator from Texas who first gained national prominence in 2013 for leading his party's charge to shut down the federal government over a dispute with President Barack Obama over the health care reform law he championed known as Obamacare.

He was also a top contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and considered the chief rival to frontrunner Donald Trump.

Cruz is a divisive figure in American politics, an ideological purist whose resistance to compromise on key principles make him a popular figure among Tea Party Republicans but alienate him from more moderate and mainstream members of his party.

On the Issues

Cruz holds positions that are traditional to social and fiscal conservatives. He opposes abortion rights, same-sex marriage and a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally, for example.

On spending, he's a strong proponent of slashing federal spending and reforming entitlement programs.


Cruz is a 1992 graduate of Princeton University and 1995 graduate of Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Political and Professional Career

Cruz was first elected to the U.S. senate in 2012.

Before winning a seat in the Senate he served in statewide office in Texas, as solicitor general. He was the first Hispanic to hold that position in the state. He served in that capacity from 2003 until May of 2008. During that time he also taught U.S. Supreme Court Litigation as an adjunct law professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

From 2001 to 2003, Cruz worked as the director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission and as and associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice.

One of Cruz's first major political appointment was as domestic policy adviser to George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign

Cruz worked in private practice before that.

Presidential Campaign of 2016 Aspirations

Cruz , and announced in March 2015 that he would run for the White House in the 2016 election.

The cornerstones of his campaign were rolling back much of President Barack Obama's achievements including the health-care reform package known as , even though he signed up for it. Cruz's conservative positions in opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage also appealed to evangelical Republicans.

"Instead of a federal government that works to undermine our values, imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life, and to uphold the sacrament of marriage," Cruz said in announcing his candidacy.

Before he ran for president, Cruz has long been laying the groundwork for a campaign. He had scored invitations to speak before numerous prominent conservative groups across the country, including in Iowa, home of the Iowa Caucuses, following the 2012 presidential election, widely seen as a sign he is lining up support for a campaign.

Cruz Was Born in Canada

Cruz was not born in the United States, however, leading some political observers to question whether he is eligible to serve as president. To be President, one must be a "natural born" citizen, according to Section I, Article II of the U.S. Constitution.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada. Because his mother was a citizen of the United States, Cruz has maintained he also is a citizen of the United States. “Sen. Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen,” a spokeswoman told the Dallas Morning News.

According to the Congressional Research Service:

"The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship 'by birth' or 'at birth,' either by being born 'in' the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship 'at birth.'"

The Dallas Morning News had reported Cruz held dual citizenships in Canada and the United States, after which Cruz verbally renounced his Canadian citizenship.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump threatened to sue Cruz over the issue if he didn't stop running attack ads.

"One of the ways I can fight back is to bring a lawsuit against him relative to the fact that he was born in Canada and therefore cannot be President. If he doesn't take down his false ads and retract his lies, I will do so immediately. Additionally, the RNC should intervene and if they don't they are in default of their pledge to me," Trump said.

Cruz's Role in Government Shutdown of 2013

Cruz rose to prominence during the run-up to the government shutdown in 2013 when he held the Senate floor 21 hours and 19 minutes, with the help of his colleagues, in an attempt to delay passage of a bill that would have paid for government operations likely without defunding Obamacare.

The move angered many of Cruz's fellow Republicans, however, who worried that the party would suffer politically by leading the charge toward a government shutdown and the furlough or federal workers.  

The attempt to filibuster the passage of a government-funding bill exposed deep divisions in the Republican Party. Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch or Utah, the dean of the Senate caucus, openly criticized his colleague, saying: “I just don’t believe anybody benefits from shutting the government down, and certainly Republicans don’t. We learned that in 1995.” 

Hatch was referring to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, for which a majority of the public blamed Republicans.

Personal Life

Cruz is the son of a computer programmer who was the first to go to college in her family, and a Cuban father who fought in that country's revolution before being imprisoned and tortured. Cruz's father fled to Texas in 1957, where he attended college and started a business in the oil and gas industry before becoming a pastor.

Cruz lives in Houston with his wife Heidi. The couple has two children, daughters Caroline and Catherine.

His full name is Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz. He was born on December 22, 1970.