Heidi Cruz is married to the most hated man in the Senate. And she has to live with him—at least, when he is actually around.
On Thursday morning, The Atlantic published a rare profile of the woman who is Mrs. Ted Cruz—and the target of what may have been the Trump campaign’s most offensive personal attack (which is saying a lot) during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. And while she has returned to her job at Goldman Sachs and maintained a relatively low profile since her husband ran for the White House two years ago, the feature article paints a heartbreaking portrait of a wife whose dreams have been dwarfed by her husband’s political ambitions.
While Ted is out battling liberal heartthrob Beto O’Rourke to keep his Senate seat, Heidi is back in Houston working 70 hours a week as a managing director at the investment bank as the primary provider and often a sole parent to their two young girls—dreaming of the home and future she left behind on the day she agreed to become his wife.
The Harvard Business grad is sometimes remarkably candid about her life behind the headlines, and the piece touches on several especially troubling episodes. Here are six of its most revealing moments.
Ted Insisted on Playing the Aladdin Theme Song at Their Wedding.
Cruz apparently insisted his wife play a CD of “A Whole New World,” the theme from Disney’s 1992 animated hit Aladdin, at the conclusion of their wedding. “She didn’t understand: They had a band, she told him—a violinist, no less! Why on earth would they play a CD?” Atlantic writer Elaina Plott described. “‘Because no one can do Aladdin,’ he said. She relented, and it became a theme of sorts. Or that’s how she remembers it, anyway. On a magic carpet ride.”
Later in the interview, Heidi claims she is glad about her husband’s musical choice. “I do appreciate that Ted started our life together with that song, because there’s some truth to it. He’ll be like, ‘It’s such a great life! We have so much adventure ahead! It’s like our magic-carpet ride,’” she told Plott. “And sometimes I’m like, ‘I hope we don’t hit the cement.’”
Heidi Moved to Texas for Ted’s Career. And Then She Hit a Breaking Point.
Two years after Cruz took on the role of Texas’ solicitor general and moved from Washington, D.C. to Austin, the duo decided that Heidi should leave her job—working for Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council—and move to Houston for the good of their marriage.
But in Houston, Heidi was three hours away from her husband and thousands of miles from her friends and family—and her aspirations of working in D.C. politics seemed like a thing of the past.
One day, she said, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“It was, like, all of this—like, ‘Why am I here? And by the way, I gave up living where my family is to come here, so that I could sit on [the] 290 freeway every week to go work for a company that’s actually headquartered in New York, and I could be in headquarters if I wasn’t here with you,’” she told Plott.
That August night, Heidi walked to the side of an on-ramp near Ted’s house in Austin, and buried her head in her hands. An alarmed passerby called the police, and the officer who found her reported that he considered her to be a “danger to herself.”
When asked if she had been contemplating suicide, Heidi said, “We were early in our marriage… It’s a wonderful thing—like, in a great way, you amplify each other. You’re a couple now, you’re two togetherstronger. But before that, you make all your own decisions. And there’s an adjustment that takes place when you realize that life is now all about the two of you, and that’s fine, but there are trade-offs.”
Their Daughter Didn’t Like Heidi Leaving Her Job to Support Ted’s Campaign.
Years later, Heidi decided to leave her job at Goldman to join her husband’s presidential campaign. She discussed her plans with her oldest daughter, Caroline, who was only 7 when the campaign began. And while Heidi tried to defend her choice by explaining that “It’s actually for the country, it’s a much bigger project than ourselves,” Caroline was unconvinced.
She had one question: If her father won the election, would her mother be paid for her role as first lady?
When Heidi explained that no, she would not be paid, Caroline spoke out against her mother’s choice.
“That’s a bad deal for you,” Heidi remembered her daughter saying. “We shouldn’t do this.”
Heidi ‘Literally Laughed’ at the Suggestion Ted Might Have Mistresses.
Throughout the heated Republican primary, Trump took many cheap shots at Cruz and her family. One of the worst occured on March 23, 2016, when Trump retweeted a supporter’s photo juxtaposing a photo of Melania with an unflattering, mouth-open shot of Heidi, accompanied by the jab “the images are worth a thousand words.”
Two days later, the Cruz family faced another personal attack: a National Enquirer story alleging that Cruz had “five secret mistresses.” Trump denied any involvement in the story—although the National Enquirer’s publisher, David Pecker, is a close friend.
Heidi refused to acknowledge that either attack bothered her—she “literally laughed” when she first saw the Enquirer story, she said. But she later noted that she had one “moment of doubt” when she saw the gossip at the grocery store. “Do you think people read this?” she remembers asking her mother. “Do you think people believe this?”
And those weren’t the only attacks leveled at the Cruz family: Trump repeatedly called her husband “Lyin’ Ted” and insinuated, with no evidence, that her father-in-law played a role in JFK’s assassination.
But despite all that, Ted—and by proxy, Heidi—publicly supported Trump after conceding the primary. On Nov. 6, both cast their vote for a man who had publicly dragged Cruz and her family through the mud.
She’s Basically a Single Parent Working 70-Hour Weeks.
With Cruz now battling to keep his seat in the Senate, The Atlantic notes, Heidi works 70 hours a week “not only because she wants to, but because she has to.”
If Cruz wins re-election, that means “six more years her husband won’t live at home,” Plott added. “It means more family conversations about why Dad can’t make it to school on Wednesday for the meet and greet with Caroline’s new teachers.”
“It does take some supportiveness, you know,” Heidi said. “Six to seven years in it, with me being the primary breadwinner—it’s like, ‘Uh, yeah, this is when people say thank you. I’ll now take that appreciation.’ Yeah, we’re seven years into this, and we’re not buying a second home anytime soon.”
When asked if his wife was happy in Houston, Ted seemed unsure. “‘Um, I think… sure,’ he said, after taking a couple of beats,” Plott wrote. “‘I think she has’—another pause—‘a professional life that has been very rewarding, a personal life that is fun and relaxing.’”
Heidi Longs for NYC and the Professional Life She Left Behind for Ted’s Ambitions.
At the end of her interview with Plott, Heidi insisted on a tour of her yet-unfinished home. She explained that much of the house’s decor was linked to places close to her heart: the seagrass carpets for the Hamptons, a framed painting for New England and Los Angeles.
That painting was also linked to New York, a place that Cruz spoke longingly of throughout the interview. “I do love New York,” she admitted. “I miss it. I miss New York.”
Plott ended the profile with a grim observation: “Throughout our tour, she spoke of the cities like the design inspirations they were. She spoke of them, too, like dazzling places she never knew.”