One questioner in Tuesday night’s CNN town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, pressed presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz on how he will win the women’s vote, to which he pointed to the plethora of strong women who have surrounded him throughout his life, as he stated that “every issue is a woman’s issue.”
Small business owner Victoria Ostrey asked, “Women are more than 50 percent of the voting electorate. What have you done, and what are you going to do to convince and persuade women to vote for you?”
Cruz enlightened the audience to the history of strong women in his life, in particular his mother and the obstacles she overcame in pursuing education and her career:
I have grown up surrounded by strong women. My mom is someone who I admire immensely. My mom is Irish Italian. She grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. She grew up in a working class family.
Her mom was the second-youngest of 17 kids. And my mom became the first person in her family ever to go to college, and that was not easy for her because my grandfather, her dad, he was not an easy man. He was a drunk, and he didn’t think women should be educated.
And so my mom stood up to her father. She stood up to him, confronted him, and she ended up going to Rice [University], she majored in math in 1956. And then she got hired at Shell as a computer programmer.
Now, you want to talk about two industries, computer science and oil and gas, neither one of which were welcoming to women, and my mom was at the intersection of them both.
And I remember my mom used to tell me a lot when I was a kid. She said she very deliberately didn’t learn how to type. She said, “Look, it was the 1950s. I understood the world I was living in.”
She didn’t want to be walking down the hall and have some man stop her and say, “Sweetheart, would you type this for me?”
She wanted to be able to respond with a clean conscience and smile and say, “I would love to help you out, but I don’t know how to type. I guess you’re going to have to use me as a computer programmer instead.”
Cruz went on to speak of the other women in his life and how hearing of his wife, Heidi’s, experiences has helped him see the challenges women face in the workplace:
And whether it’s my mom, who was a pioneer computer programmer, she’s 81 now, she’s been a best friend to me my whole life. She’s an amazing grandmother to our two little girls. Whether it’s my wife, Heidi, who is the daughter of Christian missionaries, she lived in Africa as a kid several times, she’s someone who has been an incredible business woman, and she’s strong.
Listen, when you’re married to a strong woman professional, you see the nonsense that women deal with in the business environment. You see the garbage they put up with, and it makes you mad.
Ultimately, Cruz said that all issues are women’s issues despite the push from some to make only certain issues particularly those aimed at women.
I’ve been blessed my whole life to be surrounded by strong women. I think women right now are particularly concerned about the direction of this country, are particularly concerned about what kind of future our kids are gonna have, what kind of country we’re giving to the next generation.
I think women quite rightly are very concerned about safety and security and a president that’s not protecting us from terrorism.
And I believe what protects women, ya know, the Democrats love to put everyone in a little pigeonhole, and so this is a women’s issue, this is a Hispanic issue, this is an African American issue. Listen, I believe every issue is a women’s issue. And the focus of my campaign is on three things. It’s on jobs, freedom, and security.
Bringing back the opportunity, raising wages, bringing jobs back to America. I think that is resonating powerfully with women–and fighting to protect the Bill of Rights and equal opportunity for women and men and everyone, and I tell you, there’s no one I fight harder for than our two little girls, Caroline and Catherine, who are the loves of my life and who can do anything. And I want to make sure they have a world they can live in where they have the opportunity to do anything.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.