Heidi Cruz brings husband’s message to Bay State supporters
By Evan Lips | January 8, 2016, 20:01 EDT
ANDOVER — While her husband campaigned in Iowa, Heidi Cruz spent parts of Friday about 1,350 miles to the east, holding a meet-and-greet at the home of one of the Texas Republican Ted Cruz’s biggest fans, state Rep. James Lyons.
Cruz, a Senator from Texas, may be the presidential candidate, but his wife, Heidi, is the one in the family with the big-bucks job. A banker, she took a leave from her Goldman Sachs post as managing director of its wealth management unit in the Houston office to help her husband’s campaign. The unit of the giant Wall Street bank reportedly handles clients with $40 million investment portfolios. A managing director at Goldman, which has several thousand employees at that level, typically makes around $400,000 to almost $600,000 annually, according to several websites that survey workers.
If Friday’s appearance in Andover is any indication, then Heidi Cruz sure knows how to work a room. Or a barn, in this case. The event at the Lyons residence, held inside a weatherized barn, drew about 25 supporters and a handful of media people. It was meant to be intimate – the Republican lawmaker billed it as a chance to sit down and have a face-to-face chat with the senator’s wife.
That’s exactly what Andover resident Donna Christopulos got. But Christopulos, who spoke with Heidi Cruz for several minutes, said she remains undecided as to whether she’d vote for the Texan to be the Republican presidential nominee when Massachusetts holds its primary election March 1.
“But I do know one thing – she’d be a wonderful first lady,” Christopulos said. “I’m looking forward to hearing more from her husband. She did a good job telling us what his beliefs are, and now I’d really like to hear it from him.”
In remarks to the group, made up mostly of Cruz supporters, Heidi Cruz spoke about the importance of door-to-door canvassing and the overall progress of her husband’s campaign.
“We have done our homework this year,” she said, directing her comments to the campaign volunteers in the audience. “We have done the hard work – you all have done the hard work – to build a campaign that is a national campaign that has a grassroots army across this country behind it, with enough money and cash on hand to go the distance.”
Earlier this week, she spent time holding similar meet-and-greets in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary election on Feb. 9, including a stopover in North Conway for a breakfast event. On Thursday night, she held a phonathon in Manchester with other volunteers supporting her husband’s campaign.
On Friday in Andover, Cruz opened a window into the campaign’s current strategy. She pointed out that the campaign is working with a Houston-based technology outfit to find the cell phone numbers of on-the-fence voters.
“Every single hour that you’ve knocked on doors or worked the phone bank is well-supported by the technology investments we’ve made,” she said. “The numbers that you are calling are good numbers, they’re cell phone numbers, they’re of people who are likely to vote Republican but may not have decided yet.”
Cruz assured the volunteers present that their time has been well-spent and noted that she wouldn’t be devoting as much of her own time to her husband’s campaign if she didn’t feel it would be successful.
The 43-year-old mother of two young girls may be the ideal campaign spouse – photogenic, approachable and informed – but Heidi Cruz’s job involves more than simply serving as a surrogate for the candidate. She also happens to be her husband’s chief fundraiser.
Conversations with Cruz are making potential voters like Christopulos wonder if someday it will be Heidi running for office, with her husband serving as campaign cheerleader. Her resume is rock-solid: a master’s degree from Harvard Business School, playing a key role in helping George W. Bush win the White House in 2000 and taking on a series of high-profile Washington jobs while her husband struggled in Texas to launch his own political career.
Cruz later quit Washington to join her husband in Texas. She told the Washington Post in September about how the switch left her feeling empty and depressed.
“When I moved to Texas, it really was for Ted and I wasn’t comfortable with that,” she told the Post.
She recovered, though, and landed a job with Goldman in Houston, where she quickly climbed the corporate ladder. When her husband was elected to the Senate in 2012, the couple appeared to have it all – two successful careers and two young, healthy daughters.
Heidi Cruz recalled in the Washington Post interview how much she struggled with her husband’s decision. Her husband told an audience at a campaign stop in Iowa that Heidi “changed her heart” as they drove along a freeway. What triggered his wife’s epiphany, according to Cruz, was a song that popped up on a CD of Christian music that Heidi’s sister had given them.
“I love my life,” Heidi Cruz, who was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, is quoted as saying in the Post interview. “I love my career. This is not for me. This is for our country.”
Her faith was apparent Friday in Andover. She noted at one point that despite the rigors of campaign life she feels “at peace.”
“There are still a lot of unknowns,” Cruz said. “But we’re comfortable and we’re resting in that peace because we know it’s in His hands.”
When challenged by a vocal Cruz supporter, self-proclaimed “No. 1 fan” Gary DiPiero, 48, of Saugus, over why the campaign isn’t more aggressive, she didn’t waver. She had begun to speak about the fractures in the national Republican Party, whose leaders have frequently come in for criticism by her husband for shunning more conservative positions, and acknowledged the divisions to DiPiero.
“The Republican Party is a party of principle, not of transactions,” she said. “The Democrats will say, ‘Vote for us and we’ll give you something.’
“Republicans say, ‘We believe in this, join our cause.’”
While she answered questions, DiPiero pressed Cruz, telling her that her husband “needs to be a little bolder and shorter with his answers.”
“I know he’s a lawyer and he gives long answers,” DiPiero said, drawing laughs from attendees. “But we need him to be short and to the point.”
The supporter also urged her to get her husband to “start hitting back at Trump when he hits us,” referring to Donald Trump, the billionaire New York developer atop many New Hampshire voter surveys.
“We’ve given up our lives this past year to work for free for Ted,” DiPiero said. “We’re not volunteers.”
Cruz listened to DiPiero’s lengthy comment and reminded DiPiero that she, too, has sacrificed her time.
“I want you to know that,” she said. “I left my job and I leave my girls every weekend.”
“I’m with you 100 percent.”