Although the left-wing press and Democratic former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are busily trying to depict him as a fake Latino, Sen. Ted Cruz has long been involved with the Latino community. The Texas Republican, who won a Senate seat last November, helped found Harvard Law School’s Latino Law Review and worked with then-Gov. George W. Bush to reach out to Latinos in Texas.
The twenty-four-year-old Cruz — then going by “Rafael E. Cruz” — was listed as a “general editor” in the Latino Law Review’s inaugural issue in Fall 1994. The name appears to have been just his formal name. “Students knew him as ‘Ted,’” Alan Dershowitz, a professor of Cruz’s at Harvard, told TheDC.
The progressive Review’s inaugural issue included articles on “the rebellious influence of Cesar Chavez” by Obama mentor and Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree; an analysis of the treatment of Latinos in the criminal justice system by Reynaldo Anaya Valencia; a discussion of court interpreters by Utah judge Lynn W. Davis; a review of federal sentencing guidelines by federal judge Jose A. Cabranes; and a student note on a “Latino communitarian response to gang violence.”
Cruz’s involvement with the Latino community continued after law school. As Bush’s domestic policy advisor, Cruz helped to develop the Bush 2000 campaign strategy of “just showing up” in Latino neighborhoods that Republicans had previously neglected as part of a voter turnout operation.
“What it comes down to,” Cruz told The New York Times, “is communicating the message that George W. Bush believes everyone is part of the American dream and the model is really the Texas experience.”
Despite that record, Cruz has been attacked by Democrats, such as former Gov. Bill Richardson, who criticized Cruz for not backing amnesty for illegal immigrants, many of whom are Latino.
“[Cruz] is anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform,” Richardson said on ABC’s “This Week” earlier this month. “I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic.”
Cruz’s brief tenure in the Senate has provoked plenty of unhinged commentary from the liberal media. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank described the freshman as the “leader of the neo-McCarthyite wing of the GOP,” while Salon’s Alex Pareene called him “a huge dick.” David Brooks, a putative conservative columnist for the liberal New York Times, condemned Cruz as not clubby enough for the world’s greatest deliberative body, saying in a recent appearance, “If you mention the name Ted Cruz to other senators, you just get titanic oceans of eye rolling.”
Brooks added, “It doesn’t help that he has a face that looks a little like Joe McCarthy.”
In fact, the senator’s face has become a particular object of obsession for the left, with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews calling him “the unsmiling, contemptuous face of the wild, nasty, hard-right fringe of” the GOP.
But the attacks on Cruz’s ethnicity have been even cruder. The Canadian-born Cruz — whose father fled Cuba in 1957 and was an opponent of both Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and the Fidel Castro dictatorship that supplanted it — has drawn remarkable vitriol from left-wing journalists, who have tried to make his Hispanic bona fides an issue.
BuzzFeed Director of Partnership Development Aswini Anburajan criticized Cruz’s ethnicity, calling him a “LINO,” or a “latino in name only,” for his opposition to giving undocumented immigrants government benefits. “Ted Cruz is a LINO ‘latino in name only’ good luck w/ prez aspirations w/ that stand on undoc immig and benefits,” she tweeted. Anburajan has since apologized for her tweet.
Raul Reyes, an editorial board member of USA TODAY, also questioned Cruz’s Hispanic cred, writing last week that he has “no solid Latino base.”
“Cruz has also taken positions that are out of sync with most Latinos. Cruz has introduced legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is strongly supported by Hispanics, and he is against ‘amnesty’ for the undocumented,” he wrote.
Eric Balderas, a Mexican illegal immigrant who attends Harvard College and received considerable attention in 2010 after he was arrested, has also targeted Cruz and compared his own life to Cruz’s in a YouTube video and in an op-ed for The Hill.
Balderas, who visited Capitol Hill last week to support the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill, told the Houston Chronicle that Cruz’s life story makes it baffling that he supported an amendment restricting those here illegally from becoming citizens.
“Especially if you put me and him side by side it seems hypocritical,” said Balderas, who became a government concentrator and wants a career in public service.
Balderas’s visit was sponsored by the left-wing, pro-amnesty group America’s Voice.