Meet Ted Cruz: Everything You Need To Know (And Probably Didn’t Know) About The 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate

PHOTO: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas speaks at Liberty University, March 23, 2015, in Lynchburg, Va., to announce his campaign for president. PlayAndrew Harnik/AP Photo
WATCH Ted Cruz In A Minute

Name: Rafael Edward ‘Ted’ Cruz

Party: Republican

What he does now: U.S. senator representing Texas. First elected in 2012, Cruz sits on the Senate Armed Services, the Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Judiciary committees, among others.

What he used to do: Cruz was the solicitor general of Texas from 2003 to 2008. At the time he became solicitor general, he was the youngest solicitor general in the country. Prior to that, he worked in private practice and at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.

Declared as a candidate: March 23, 2015 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In his own words: “It is a time for truth. It is a time for liberty. It is a time to reclaim the Constitution of the United States. … The answer will not come from Washington. It will come only from the men and women across this country, from men and women, from people of faith, from lovers of liberty, from people who respect the Constitution.”

Family tree: Cruz was born Dec. 22, 1970 in Calgary, Canada to an American mother and a Cuban immigrant father. His parents met in the United States and were working in the oil and gas industry in Canada at the time of his birth. His mother, Eleanor, grew up in Delaware as one of 17 children. She was the first in her family to attend college. His dad, Rafael, fought against the Fulgencio Batista regime in the 1950s. As part of the anti-Batista underground, Rafael Cruz was jailed and tortured. When Rafael Castro was released, he immigrated to the United States.

How he met his wife: Cruz met his wife, Heidi, when they were both working on the policy team for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Cruz said that their first date lasted four hours and that the two began dating three days after meeting and quickly became best friends. Heidi Cruz is a graduate of Harvard Business School and took a leave of absence from her work as a managing director at Goldman Sachs to help on her husband’s presidential campaign. The couple have two young daughters, Caroline and Catherine.

How he got his start: In 1996, Cruz clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He also served as a policy advisor on George W. Bush’s 2000 election campaign.

Where he went to school: Cruz attended Princeton University and got his law degree from Harvard Law School. While in college and law school, he was a champion debater.

Most memorable moment as a senator: Cruz made his mark in the Senate by leading the 21-hour filibuster denouncing Obamacare in 2013. The filibuster contributed to a government shutdown. During his time on the Senate floor, Cruz famously read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, did an impression of Darth Vader and described his love of White Castle. Cruz said that “by using humor, my remarks got heard by people who would never otherwise have listened.” Ushered into office as part of the Tea Party movement, Cruz has often draw the ire of Senate leadership. This month he made headlines when he accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of telling a “flat-out” lie.

Might have wished for a do-over: Sen. Cruz might want to take back his use of a joke poking fun at Vice President Joe Biden. Shortly after the death of Biden’s son, Cruz made a joke about the vice president during a speech. Cruz ultimately apologized for the remarks, saying, "It was a mistake to use an old joke about Joe Biden during his time of grief, and I sincerely apologize."

Food he hates: Avocados. He once told the Des Moines Register, “I despise avocado. It’s the only food I dislike, and I dislike it passionately. Which is ironic, because I’m Cuban, and my dad grew up with avocado trees in his backyard. My whole family eats avocados like crazy, but I can’t stand them.”

What he believes in: Cruz is Baptist. He’s joked, “I’m Cuban, Irish and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist.” When Cruz was a toddler, his parents briefly separated. During that time, Cruz said that his father found Jesus and that led him back to Cruz and his mother. He wrote in his book, “When people ask if faith is real, I don’t have to speculate; I’ve seen the fruits of a walk with Christ in my own life and in my family. Were it not for my father’s becoming a Christian, I would have been raised by a single mother.”

Biggest childhood challenge: Cruz describes reinventing himself in middle school when he was tired of being unpopular. In his book A Time For Truth, he writes, “I refused to play sports as a child. That of course, made me even worse. That mix-excelling in the classroom, being too competitive and cocky about academics and being lousy at sports-was, needless to say, not a recipe for popularity.” Cruz decided to start playing sports. His braces came off and his acne eventually cleared up. He also changed his name. He went from being called “Felito” to being called “Ted.”

Favorite movie: “The Princess Bride.” Cruz has also admitted he is a “Star Trek” and “Spiderman” fan.

Favorite pastime: Playing video games, particularly Plants V. Zombies. In an interview with the Daily Beast, he said that he plays games mostly on his phone because if he had a console, he would spend too much time on it. Cruz also loves to do impressions. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Cruz did impressions of characters from “The Simpsons.”