As his high school’s valedictorian, Ted had the opportunity to visit several campuses while scouting out colleges. He dreamed of attending an Ivy League school and visited esteemed campuses like Harvard, MIT and Dartmouth. He realized his dream when he was accepted to Princeton University.
Paying for an Ivy League education wasn’t easy, though. His family was struggling financially so it required earning scholarships, taking out student loans and working two jobs — no government bailouts for this constitutional conservative.
During his freshman year, Ted realized that being a principled conservative in a liberal environment would be challenging. He was paired with a New Jersey liberal as his roommate. Needless to say, they didn’t exactly hit it off. (In fact, that roommate is conducting a Twitter jihad against Ted this very day.)
Being a super smart geek, Ted naturally joined the Princeton debate team. He became a champion debater, winning multiple categories, including 1992 Team of the Year and 1992 Speaker of the Year. He additionally won significant national debates earning awards for the 1992 National Championship for Top Speaker and the North American Debating Championship Top Speaker. Today, he is forever enshrined in the Princeton debate hall of fame.
Ted continued his debating record at Harvard Law School where he became a world debating championship semifinalist.
While at Harvard, Ted served as the primary editor of the Harvard Law Review, the executive editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy and the founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review. He graduated magnum cum laude from Harvard Law School.
One of Ted’s law professors — liberal lion lawyer Alan Dershowitz — said this of his student: “One of the sharpest students I had, in terms of analytic skills. I’ve had 10,000 students over my 50 years at Harvard. He has to qualify among the brightest of the students. Deeply principled. He thinks he’s doing the right thing. I saw that years ago when he was a student. He was not a compromiser. He was not somebody who tried to make friends by accepting what was then the political correctness of the day.”
Upon graduating from Harvard Law School, Ted landed a job as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice law clerk in U.S. history, clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He later went into private practice defending his first love — the United States Constitution.
Working on matters relating to the Second Amendment and the NRA, Ted helped prepare testimony for the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. When he was 28, Cruz joined the George W. Bush presidential campaign in 1999 as a domestic policy adviser, advising then governor George W. Bush in a wide range of policy and legal matters, including civil justice, criminal justice, constitutional law, immigration and government reform.
During the 2000 election, in the case of Bush vs. Gore, Cruz was sent to Florida to sort out the legal mess created by the dangling chad situation. Cruz assisted in assembling the Bush legal team, devising strategy and drafting pleadings for filings with the Supreme Court of Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court. He helped lead the way to two big wins, clearing the way for Bush to become president.
He was still barely 30 years old.