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“I was a weird 17-year-old,” TedCruz’92 told the full house gathered in McCosh 50 to hear him speak in a conversation with professor Robert George on theFridayafternoon of Reunions. Cruz's observation was made in response to an anecdote he told the crowd about how when he was 17, he knew that what he wanted to do with his life was to “fight for free market principles.”

Since his teenage years,Cruzhas stuck to his life plans as a 17-year-old. He advocates finding a passion, fighting for one’s beliefs and sticking to principles. He discussed his experience at Princeton, his career after college, his successful Senate election in 2012 as a Republican representing Texas and his optimism for the larger future of the conservative movement.

Cruzcited the balanced education at Princeton and its impact on his way of thinking about issues.

"It did strike me that although conservatives at Princeton are still a minority on campus, that there was in fact a community,” notedCruz, an active member of the Whig-Cliosophic Society during his University years. “I didn't want to be in a place where everyone agreed with me. But at the same time I wasn't sure I wanted college to be a place where nobody agreed with me."

Eventually becoming the chairman of the conservative group, the Clios,Cruznoted that he never experienced animosity toward his beliefs from his more liberal classmates during his time at the University. He recalled that even after passionate arguments on an issue, he and his friends could still poke fun at each other. “You laugh about it, you call them Communist, they call you Fascist,”Cruz said, joking.

On a larger scale,Cruzsaid that maintaining the drive and passion that many college students have is crucial. “Don’t lose the passion you feel at 21 years old. Don’t settle in to middle-age acquiescence,”Cruz said.

In particular, Cruz advocated the idea of intellectual diversity.

“There is this tendency in public discourse to view anyone that disagrees with you as evil or stupid,” he said.

Cruznoted that during his time as a professor at the University of Texas law school, he often thought students had a more well-rounded pedagogical experience when they argued the side of case for which they strongly disagreed.

With his background in law,Cruzemphasized that he is a Constitutionalist as well as a believer in free market conservatism, citing Ronald Reagan as a political model he tries to emulate.

Cruzsaid passion for these strong beliefs in free market conservatism principles have served him well. Recounting his Senate race in 2012, he said that although he was down in the primaries, he rallied back because his conservative supporters launched a grassroots campaign defending free market principles. The passion thatCruzfelt his staff had for these principles is what, he believes, won him the election.

Subsequently, leaning away from free market conservatism and toward elections results has spelled trouble for the Republican Party, according toCruz.

“There are those who make the argument from a Republican partisan perspective — the goal is just for Republicans to win,”Cruz noted. He further said that some also believe that Republicans can win by not standing for anything too controversial.

ForCruz, this attitude is a significant part of the reason why Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, and again in 2012.

“We weren’t standing for anything anymore,”Cruz noted, later saying, “[Republicans] that run on free market conservative principles, they win, and when they don’t, they lose … Neither McCain nor Romney ran as a conservative.”

Cruz also said he was concerned with Hispanic voting patterns. WhileCruzreceived around 40 percent of the Hispanic vote for senator, he noted that presidential candidate Mitt Romney got 29 percent in Texas. He said polling has shown that the reason why “Republicans got slaughtered” with the Hispanic vote in 2012 is because the Republican Party is widely seen as only caring about the “rich guys.”

Thus, the conventional wisdom of Democrats being the “party of the poor” and Republicans being the “party of the rich” is whatCruzstated he believes to be “the biggest lie in politics.”Cruzsaid that the Republican Party is the party of the “little guy, the 47 percent, the person climbing the economic ladder.”

Nevertheless,Cruzsaid he is optimistic for the new generation of Republicans taking office. He discussed the methods of communication and messages of lawmakers like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan, calling their message “hopeful, positive, unifying, appealing to our better angels.”

Looking at this message, a lean toward free market principles,Cruznoted, “that gives me optimism that [conservatives] will succeed in winning the argument.” To that extent,Cruzspoke briefly about what he is working on in the Senate, noting that he is working toward helping Republicans win the Senate in the 2014 elections and more broadly, accomplishing his goal as a 17-year-old—“winning the free market argument.”

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