7 Things You Never Knew About Ted Cruz That We Learned From Reading His Book

PHOTO: Senator Ted Cruz (R) Texas on This WeekABC News
Senator Ted Cruz (R) Texas on 'This Week'

Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book, “A Time For Truth,” published this week, is part memoir, part political mission statement.

It also happens to have chapters covering topics you might not expect to hear about from a presidential candidate, including his father’s torture in Cuba, his wife’s struggle with depression and what it was like to watch pornography with Supreme Court justices.

Here are seven surprising things we learned from the Texas Republican’s book:

1. He Watched ‘Hard-Core’ Porn with Supreme Court Justices

Yes, you read that right. While clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a then 26-year-old Cruz watched porn with Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

“We were in front of a large computer screen gazing at explicit, hard-core pornography,” Cruz wrote.

The Supreme Court was considering a case about regulating the online world of pornography. Court librarians had set up a tutorial to help the justices and clerks understand how accessible and pervasive online porn is.

In the book, Cruz describes the justices’ reaction to the naughty images on their computer screen: "A slew of hard-core, explicit images showed up onscreen. As we watched these graphic pictures fill our screens, wide-eyed, no one said a word. Except for Justice O'Connor, who lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, 'Oh, my.'"

2. Ted Is Actually Not His Real Name

When he was 13, Cruz decided to change his name to “Ted.”

Born Rafael Edward Cruz, he’d gone by the nickname “Felito” most of his life. Cruz describes the nickname often resulted in him being teased. He refers to that time of his life as a time where he was an “unpopular nerd.”

“The problem with that name was that it seemed to rhyme with every major corn chip on the market. Fritos, Cheetos, Doritos and Tostitos- a fact that other young children were quite happy to point out,” Cruz wrote.

Cruz wrote that his mother gave him the idea to change his name: “‘Ted’ immediately felt like me. But my father was furious with the decision. He viewed it as a rejection of him and his heritage, which was not my intention.”

3. Cruz’s Father Was Tortured in Cuba

Cruz writes at length about the influence his father’s journey to the United States has had on him. Rafael Cruz, grew up in Cuba and fought against the Fulgencio Batista regime in the 1950s. As part of the anti-Batista underground, Rafael Cruz was jailed and tortured. It wasn’t until Ted Cruz was a teen watching the movie Rambo with his dad that he learned about his father’s past.

Cruz describes the torture his father endured, writing, “They threw him in a rotten cell, acrid with the smell of blood, grime, and urine. Men with clubs beat him. His captors broke his nose when they kicked him in the head with their army boots. They bashed in his front teeth until they dangled from his mouth.”

Cruz goes on to describe how his dad’s past has influenced the senator’s political journey.

“My dad, a Cuban immigrant who sometimes seems larger than life, has always been my hero. He has always felt a visceral urgency about politics. Having the right people in office was vitally important to my dad, as if it were a matter of life and death. Because for him, in a very literal sense, it was.”

4. Cruz’s Half-Sister Died of a Drug Overdose

Cruz’s father was married before he met and married Cruz’s mother. Cruz has two half-sisters, one of whom struggled with drug addiction for years.

“Eventually she developed a serious drug and alcohol addiction. I loved Miriam, who was nine years older than I. But I sometimes found it hard to reconcile the bright, fun, charismatic sister I adored with the person who would like to me without hesitation and who stole money from her teenage brother to feed her various addictions,” he wrote.

Cruz also describes visiting his sister at a crack house in Philadelphia. He says that she went to prison several times for offenses like shoplifting.

5. Cruz and Wife “Prayed” To Help Her Through Depression

Cruz gets candid describing a tough moment during his marriage when his wife, Heidi Cruz, battled depression. The episode occurred over 10 years ago when Heidi Cruz moved to Texas when Cruz became solicitor general of the state.

"The adjustment led to her facing a period of depression, which was really difficult for us both. I did my best to help Heidi through this time, we prayed together and she went to counseling and relied on the love and support of her family and close friends." Cruz wrote.

Cruz said that his wife went to a Christian retreat. Heidi Cruz, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, is currently on leave from her job while her husband campaigns for the presidency.

6. President George H.W. Bush Let Cruz Wear His Clothes

While running for attorney general of Texas, Cruz was invited to the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. Cruz was surprised when former President George H.W. Bush offered him a ride on his boat. Cruz, who was wearing a suit and tie at the time, borrowed some of the former president’s clothes to wear on the boat.

The former president “fished out some jeans, a shirt, and a belt, the buckle of which read, ‘President of the United States.’ It was surreal to be wearing his clothes,” Cruz wrote.

7. Cruz Once Bowled with Bo Derek

While working on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000, Cruz celebrated Election Day by bowling with Bo Derek. Derek was the then girlfriend of Josh Bolten, the head of the policy team for the campaign.

“Let me just say, Bo Derek is spectacularly beautiful,” Cruz wrote. “At the bowling alley, she bowled barefoot, with two hands, in a white pantsuit. Every man on the policy team was mesmerized.”