Heidi Cruz, a seasoned campaigner for husband Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator from Texas and presidential candidate, spoke to a crowd of more than 300 people Tuesday during a campaign stop in Belleville at Eckert’s Country Store.
She focused her 15-minutes speech on why she loves the senator, his platform and how the Cruz campaign plans to win in a general election.
She said she was “smitten” with Ted Cruz when she met him in their late 20s, saw his devotion to conservative principles and learned how his family established itself.
She said if her husband wins the GOP nomination, he won’t change his stances on issues. “Ted’s not going to change what he says,” she said.
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Touching on the battle over filling the Supreme Court vacancy after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, Heidi Cruz also said that, were Ted Cruz elected to the Oval Office, he would appoint a Supreme Court justice who is a “constitutionalist.”
Heidi Cruz said the campaign in Illinois relies heavily on its ground operations.
“Ted cannot win this race, but we can,” she told the group spilling out of the restaurant.
Heidi Cruz is a successful banker who worked at the prominent investment firm Goldman Sachs before joining her husband’s campaign for the presidency. She is a graduate of Harvard Business School and worked in President George W. Bush’s administration as an adviser and as the former director of the U.S. Treasury Department, according to a biography of her by Claremont McKenna College.
After taking pictures with the crowd, Heidi Cruz spoke about what her plans would be as the First Lady of the United States.
“There are so many amazing families that have served this country... The things that I care most about are our kids, school choice and entreprenuership.”
An enthusiastic Belleville
The “Coffee with Heidi Cruz” campaign stop was overwhelmed with interested voters ahead of the March 15 Illinois primary. Mary Thurman, the vice president of the Republican Women of St. Clair County, which was the host for the event, said the club counted 280 tickets after the event and that many more attendees didn’t fill out contact cards.
A number of metro-east politicians and judges came out to support the Republican campaign, including Dallas Cook, the city clerk for Belleville, who described himself as an undecided voter.
“I just want anyone but Hillary Clinton,” he said.
Becky McGrady, a nurse, handed out tickets with her two daughters. After receiving her degree in nursing from Saint Louis University in 1983, she moved to Sangamon County and became a precinct captain for the Republican Party. In 1992, she moved down to St. Clair County and continued being an activist.
McGrady, who is politically conservative, brought her two daughters to Eckert’s, and the three of them handed out tickets before Cruz arrived.
“Both have excused absences because they have a family obligation,” she said of her daughters, with whom she has been active in grassroots politics since she first wheeled them from door to door in a red wagon. Now they have a deep interest in politics and watch a lot of the History Channel.
“It’s just fun volunteering,” said daughter Elleanor, a sophomore at Belleville East. She said volunteering was more than just about being a fan of one political candidate but about being involved in the political process as a whole.
“Everyone should have their own opinion,” said eighth-grade daughter Gwynne, who wore her mother’s original “Reagan/Bush ‘84” T-shirt to school after the recent death of Nancy Reagan.
The GOP primary remains unsettled, with Ted Cruz trailing Trump in the delegate count. But some pundits think an anti-Trump crowd could be beginning to coalesce around Cruz, a theme Heidi spoke about at Eckert’s.
It was difficult to determine whether everyone at the event were Cruz supporters. Not even the Republican Women of St. Clair County is endorsing anyone just yet.
Thurman said the Republican Women of St. Clair County isn’t endorsing a particular candidate.
“We believe that individuals have a right to pick their own candidate,” Thurman said, adding that any other GOP presidential candidates who come through the metro-east would be welcomed, too.