Ted Cruz was part of George W. Bush's 2000 Florida recount team. Bush called him 'Theodore.'

Ted Cruz walks alone in Iowa
(Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The long, messy, aborted recount of votes in Florida in the 2000 election — and the U.S. Supreme Court's last-minute intervention — was a big moment in U.S. politics. It was also a big moment in the life and career of Ted Cruz, a 29-year-old policy adviser to George W. Bush's campaign who was sent to help out the Bush legal team in Tallahassee. In his book, A Time for Truth, Cruz paints himself as a central figure in the legal and political drama, which ended up sending Bush to the White House. The New York Times interviewed more than a dozen of Cruz's colleagues, and found a more complicated story.

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Cruz's legal work was recalled as exemplary by those who remembered him in Tallahassee, but his personality, obvious ambition, and tendency to insert his opinion rubbed plenty of Bush aides the wrong way, The Times notes, adding that some people avoided meetings they knew Cruz would be at. Cruz hints at that in his book, noting: "I was far too cocky for my own good... and that sometimes caused me to overstep the bounds of my appointed role."

According to The Times, Cruz often reminded people of his résumé: Princeton, Harvard, a Supreme Court clerkship, Washington law firm. And his period as a GOP insider might help explain how he became a disruptive outsider. Cruz met his wife, Heidi, while working for the Bush campaign, and while Heidi Cruz was offered a job in the Bush White House, Ted Cruz was not. "He thought he should get the No. 1 policy job in the White House, and he was extremely ambitious," former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told The Times. "In Ted’s case in 2000, it backfired."

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You can read more about Cruz's work on the 2000 recount — and learned why Bush called him "Theodore" (his name is Rafael Edward Cruz) — at The New York Times.

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