By Michele Justic
Our notion of First Lady is ever evolving. From early figures of Martha Washington and Abigail Adams through the unforgettable Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie O and towards modern figures of Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, and onwards, the expectations shift continuously. Beauty and elegance, power and influence, intelligence and capabilities vary depending on each woman who fills the role. A stroll through the Smithsonian exhibition would make it seem the most important matter at hand is choosing the best inaugural dress, but we understand the role has much more at stake.
The 2016 election campaign presents quite a contrast of ladies, and even a man, to fill the role of first spouse. Heidi Cruz came to Long Island this week, and those who had the privilege of meeting with her can agree she would bring dignity and elegance, along with a keen insight and intelligence, to the White House along with her husband, Senator Ted Cruz.
At a modest political meet-and-greet on Monday, April 12, in Mineola, Heidi held her own, speaking passionately in support of her husband, personably shaking hands with and thanking the hundreds of supporters who came out for her midday. She stated how she loves New York, having begun her career here, and loves the energy and talent here. Her reference to career is key, as she has many accomplishments to bring to the table. She holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and, in addition to a successful career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, she served in the Bush White House as the economic director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, as the director of the Latin America Office at the U.S. Treasury Department, and as Special Assistant to U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick.
Heidi met Ted while working on the George W. Bush campaign. Their values and personalities gelled well and the love still gushes. As she declared on Monday, “Three things made me fall in love with Ted. He is deeply principled as the child of Cuban freedom fighters and stood up for the people of Texas and reduced the deficit. He is courageous, which is why Congress doesn’t like him. And he is thoughtful, going out before the debate to buy chocolates for his wife for Valentine’s Day, taking his children to the aquarium . . .”
Heidi then moved on to three reasons why Ted is the best choice for the future of our country: “Ted doesn’t need briefing books. He knows the issues . . . He will restore [the] private sector and create jobs, protect our liberties, and keep this country safe.” She concluded by encouraging the supporters: “He has won five states in a row. Let’s make New York the sixth state.”
Lawrence resident Trudy Stern, who serves as co-president of NORPAC-LI, along with her husband Stanley, is determined to help the Cruzes win this sixth state and many others, and she helped organize Heidi’s events in New York. As she describes her years-long relationship with the Cruzes, there is a sense of destiny as these two power couples who share many ideals met at the opportune time.
In the summer of 2014, Stanley and Trudy Stern had gone on their annual trip to Israel to manage some business meetings. But this was no ordinary trip, if any trip to Israel can ever be called “ordinary.” This was the summer of the Gaza War, and business halted while rockets flew overhead. Instead of the usual optimistic glow following a trip to Israel, the Sterns returned depressed and concerned for the future.
At that low point, Stanley and Trudy were invited to a meeting for Ted Cruz. They had held NORPAC events for the senator but attended this meeting not knowing it would have such an impact on them and possibly on this country. At the podium, Ted spoke about the America–Israel relationship in a way we rarely hear—honestly and passionately, no holds barred. He truly believes that as the only dependable ally in the Middle East, Israel needs our support while also feeling that supporting Israel is morally the right thing to do as well.
The Sterns were mesmerized by how well Cruz knew the issues and, as they asked him about domestic issues as well, were awestruck at his brilliant analysis and proposed solutions to our problems. In retrospect, they agree with famed legal mind Alan Dershowitz’s estimation that Cruz is “off the charts brilliant” and “among the brightest . . . of my 10,000 students.” The Sterns were asked to assist in campaign strategy and spent much quality time with the Cruzes at a ranch in Texas. This is where Heidi comes into the picture.
Trudy was equally impressed with Heidi. Trudy calls Heidi “a role model for our women,” saying that she “enhances their family and would enhance the country with her intelligence and clarity of mind . . . and sharing her husband’s vision.” Trudy also endorses the Cruz practice of involving their daughters, Caroline (8) and Catherine (5), in the campaign. “I have seen firsthand it is not exploitative. They want them involved as a family, and whenever one of them does not feel comfortable being a part of things, they have the choice to stay home.”
After spending one whirlwind day with Heidi, Trudy is amazed by how she gracefully deals with it all. On Monday, they traveled in a small car with a few young staffers assisting, to three different locations, with minimal time for even basic personal needs. Yet Heidi smiles, looks beautiful, speaks intelligently, and greets each person warmly, treats him or her as if they have the room to themselves.
While critics might refer to a jab at Donald Trump’s “New York values” and to Cruz’s refusal to support a pork-barrel-filled Hurricane Sandy spending bill, a thorough understanding of Ted and Heidi Cruz’s policies and practices is reason enough to lead Republican-registered New Yorkers to vote for him in the primary on April 19.