Heidi Cruz, an investment manager at Goldman Sachs, likes to tell her business friends that they would last “about two minutes” in Congress before they went looking for another job.
“This is an environment where there’s been no compromise on either side,” she told an an audience full of Chicago business and civic leaders at a breakfast event this week. “We have to have someone who will negotiate and compromise, but advance the ball.”
That’s a striking statement from the wife of senator Ted Cruz, who has drawn the disdain of virtually all of his Senate colleagues largely because of his refusal to compromise. While blocking Democratic initiatives is par for the course, Cruz even launched filibusters to block deals worked out by Republican leaders.
Less than a week before the Illinois primary, Cruz, who took an unpaid leave from her high profile job at Goldman Sachs to support her husband on the campaign trail, pitched his candidacy to a crowd who might more naturally favor a fellow businessman like Donald Trump.
She struck a diplomatic tone, distinguishing Cruz from Trump, but also praising the Republican frontrunner for tapping into a pent up anger among the American electorate.
Evading a question about a potential Trump-Cruz ticket, she said that it was very important to elect someone “who when our kids are sitting on the living room floor watching television, that we are proud to have them watch our president”—a not-so-subtle dig at the brash billionaire. She also called him a “master marketer of calling out some of the problems that have been on the hearts and minds of the people.”
“People are fed up. We need to address that and I think we can do so in a way that’s positive, optimistic appeals to our better selves as Americans, not to our fears, and things that have historically divided us,” she said.
“She should be running for president,” joked Mark Weyermuller, a small business owner and a longtime enthusiastic Cruz supporter. “She’s on top of the issues, and she’s very personable.” He says he is supporting the Texas senator as the “most conservative” in the crowd of Republican candidates.
Heidi Cruz has said in the past that she can “soften” her husband’s image, as she “loves people.” Her husband, she says, ”calls it like it is.” He’s the combative lawyer who gladly picks a fight, while she is the deal-maker businesswoman. Asked by an audience member about being married to someone who argued in front of the Supreme Court, she quoted her young daughter’s somewhat perplexing words: “Dad doesn’t really talk at home.”
Cruz tried to frame her husband in personal terms—he is apparently a “big sleeper” who likes to have 10-11 hours a night during stressful times.
Asked by a father of a cancer survivor about Cruz’s opposition to Obamacare, she underlined that she knew the costs of healthcare firsthand, since the family does not receive benefits through her job while she is on leave. In fact, the Cruz family does have health insurance, his campaign has reluctantly admitted.
“The cost of our healthcare has gone through the roof,” she said, “I can’t tell you how many checks I write every month.”
Lauren Stone and Jennifer Northouse are registered Republicans and owners of a Chicago recruiting firm. They are still deciding whether to vote for Cruz or Trump, and didn’t leave the event entirely convinced, but were definitely “more excited” about the prospect of a Cruz presidency.
Stone likes that Trump’s campaign is self-funded, that he has been a “successful businessman,” and could be a “turnaround president.” But she agreed with her Northouse, her business partner, that Cruz would bring “a certain level of class” to the office. “The process and office should be treated with reverence,” she said.
For Northouse, Cruz’s emphasis on national security was crucial, as well as his pitch for tax reform.
As for the candidate’s wife? “It was refreshing to see such a poised individual who could be the First Lady,” Stone said.