"I was really hungover": Salon read Ted Cruz's new memoir so you don't have to

GOP presidential candidate recounts his hard-partying days -- and his "spiritual" experience at the Reagan ranch

Published July 6, 2015 1:32PM (EDT)

  (AP/Andrew Harnik)
(AP/Andrew Harnik)

Texas Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz is out with a new book, A Time for Truth, detailing his life ahead of the Republican primary debates. In the memoir, the freshman senator outlines his conservative principles through accounts of his personal life. While Cruz's conservative values are well known, we pulled out some of the lesser known but interesting tidbits of Cruz's life:

1. He went by the name Felito until he was 13 

Cruz changed his name to Ted at the age of 13 due to bullying, "until I was thirteen, I was 'Felito Cruz.' 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."

"'Ted' immediately felt like me," he explained, "But my father was furious with the decision" and when his wife pointed to Ted Kennedy as a proper example, Cruz wrote, "my father was apoplectic. He had no love for liberals ... to equate me to with Teddy Kennedy was too much. For about two years, he refused to utter my new name."

2. His parents went bankrupt because of Ronald Reagan 

Cruz's parents, both scientists, started their own successful small business using dynamite to locate pockets of oil in Texas but the company collapsed after as Cruz explains, "Ironically, President Reagan had an inadvertent hand in their company's demise since one of the ways he won the Cold War was by strengthening the dollar, which caused the price of oil to plummet...ultimately the company went broke and my parents went bankrupt. It was a full-bore disaster. " Oddly enough, Cruz said the biggest fight his parents ever had came the day his father found out his mother voted for Jimmy Carter.

The company was sold and eventually went on to become a multi-billion dollar company renamed, Veritas. As Cruz explained, his parents "retained no proprietary interest, and so they did not benefit from its subsequent growth."

3. A portion of his wedding was on Ronald Reagan's ranch 

Cruz married his wife, Heidi, in May 2001 near where she grew up in Santa Barbara, California but "the day before the ceremony" he wrote, "we took our wedding party to a picnic at Rancho del Cielo, the Reagan ranch." Cruz confidently added, "I think for most of the wedding party, that was their favorite memory of the weekend, but I would be in deep trouble if I were to say it was mine." Cruz recalled the memory as "a moving, even spiritual experience," describing how he "stood probably twenty or thirty minutes behind [Reagan's] chair, looking out that window and soaking up the ambiance of a man I've admired my whole life."

4. His grandmother faked insanity to get out of teaching

Cruz, whose father immigrated from Cuba, described how his grandmother, a teacher, resisted the Castro regime, writing, "schoolteachers were required to indoctrinate their students with communism. But my grandmother wanted nothing to do with poisoning children's minds, and so she resorted to an extreme measure: She feigned insanity. She began screaming gibberish and foaming at the mouth, running out of the classroom. She enlisted a doctor friend to giver her a bogus diagnosis of insanity to get her out of teaching school."

5. He showed up hungover to a college admissions interview and opening weekend of his first play 

During a tour of Ivy League colleges, Cruz showed up to an admissions interview hungover. "In fact, at a meeting the next day with an admissions counselor at Brown, I had to asker her to please lower her voice because, I told her, I was really hungover," he wrote.

And while a student at Harvard Law School, Cruz took to acting, joining the drama society in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, for which he showed up so hungover on the second day that he left the stage in the middle of the performance. "As it happens, my sad display was captured on tape, a copy of which found its way int the hands of a reporter from the Boston Globe," Cruz wrote.

6. He was a Bush lawyer for the 2000 Florida recount 

Cruz worked to elect fellow Texan George W. Bush in 2000 as part of his policy team but explains that he had little left to do on election day so he went bowling with Bo Derek (she was dating his boss at the time) who "bowled barefoot, with two hands, in a white pantsuit." He added, "Everyman on the policy team was mesmerized." Two days after the election Cruz was sent to Florida to help with the recount, "Indeed, I was astonished that Al Gore had even decided to challenge the election in the courts" Cruz wrote, "I thought it was a rather petulant display by Vice President Gore."

7. He was a big-time prankster 

Cruz's teenage years were full of pranks of varying degrees. In one case, he vandalized a rival school with toilet paper and shaving cream, leading to a car chase with school janitors. When Cruz was caught, his principal threatened to recommend his admission be rescinded at Princeton University. In another case, he admitted to "at Christmastime taking the lights from several neighborhood houses and then surreptitiously decorating another house with them."

He recounted how "in high school I was suspended from school for several days for going to a party, drinking, and smoking pot" and how he spent his time with his best friend, "the two of us used to sit in the dark living room of his apartment with a pellet gun and shoot the rats that would come out in the kitchen."

8. He got federal financial-aid to attend Princeton

If you have gotten the theme by now, Ted Cruz is just like you, he even had to turn to the federal government for help financing his Ivy League education (maybe not so much like you, but you get the point.) After describing a time while as an undergraduate at Princeton University, he gambled away $2,000 in a poker game, Cruz describes how financial aid allowed him to improve his grades, "I went to the the financial aid office, and was able to get additional student loans. I wasn't thrilled about the debt burden, but the loans enabled me to stop working my campus jobs and focus instead on my studies."

9. His older sister died of a drug overdose

Cruz had two older half-sisters and a half- brother who tragically passed away of Sudden Infant Death syndrome in 1965. But his older half-sister Miriam's ordeal with drug addiction is well documented in the book. “I loved my sister,” Cruz wrote, but “she spent much of her life trapped by the demons of addiction and anger," adding that she “refused to change her path."

Cruz described traveling with his father to a crackhouse in Philadelphia in an attempt to intervene but “it was a fruitless effort,” Cruz recalled. Miriam died of an accidental drug overdose in 2011.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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