Parenting

Ted Cruz's Adorable Children Steal the Show in CNN Town Hall

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Republican runner-up Ted Cruz held a town hall with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in New York on Wednesday, but it wasn’t the Texas senator who stole the show. His two daughters, Caroline and Catherine, took center stage as the conversation turned to important policy issues like Build-a-Bear and Taylor Swift.

Cruz also discussed political issues, but his charming young family reminded New Yorkers that this candidate is also a father, who has to balance the intensity of a presidential campaign with the joys and struggles of parenting.

Caroline turns eight years old on Thursday, and Anderson Cooper asked her about her birthday plans. “Well, I want the American Girl doll Julie, and I’m gonna have a Build-a-Bear party,” the young girl said, plainly a bit nervous but also excited. She did not know what kind of bear she will build, but she insisted it should be different than the one her 5-year-old sister Catherine will knit together.

Also, if you want to know Anderson Cooper’s favorite kind of cake, that would be chocolate. Or so he told Caroline when she said they’ll have chocolate cake for her birthday. “It’s going to look like one of my rainbow bears,” she declared, growing more excited. “Actually, it’s a rainbow jaguar,” Caroline said, correcting herself.

Cruz’s wife Heidi shared who the girls would want to be their first guest in the White House: Taylor Swift! When Cooper asked Caroline, “What’s your favorite Taylor Swift song?” the girl replied, “I like all the songs.” Then, unable to hold herself back, she burst out, “but my three favorite are ‘Bad Blood,’ ‘Blank Space,’ and ‘Wildest Dreams.'” At this, her father chimed in, “and they have karaoke machines they got for Christmas.”

With a bit of prodding from her mom, Caroline admitted that her favorite state is New York — in part because of the state’s wonderful American Girl store. Her father explained that Caroline is “rascally,” like him. Catherine, however, who was mostly silent throughout the event, gives the best hugs. We know this on the authority of Texas’s junior senator, also her father. He dubbed his youngest daughter’s hugs “marshmallow hugs.”

Next Page: The daughters are “excited” to be part of the campaign.

Heidi Cruz said that her two daughters are “excited” to help out on the campaign. “We have given them a lot of choices, and they wanted to come on the road with us,” the mother confided. “They wanted to be part of this; I think they understand that it is something bigger than our family…and they’re really excited to be part of something that their dad is doing — that their parents are doing.”

“They know it’s for others,” mama Cruz continued. “We talked about that from the very beginning. Why would dad run for president? It was to make this country a better place for other kids as well.”

In another part of the town hall Cruz declared, “It is not acceptable to attack anyone’s spouse, anyone’s kids, anyone’s family. Those should be off-limits.” The senator took the chance to seize the high ground. “The personal attacks that we’ve seen in this campaign have been really unfortunate. I don’t think they belong in politics,” he said. “The approach that I’ve tried to take throughout this campaign…has been when others attack, that I don’t respond in kind.” He insisted that policy differences are fair game, but never family.

This gave him the coup de grace, but it’s also a very good point. Family comes first, before politics, before career, before everything besides faith. That means it should be off-limits. Political campaigns are a game where you try to outwit the other side, to take voters away from your opponent. If you jeopardize your family to do this, or jeopardize their family as well, you don’t have your priorities straight.

Cruz’s campaign may not be blameless — the Ben Carson business in Iowa is a black mark, even though it likely had very little effect on that race — but it has not attacked Trump on his family history, even though there is a lot of it. While a Cruz supporter did voice the substance of a later ad attacking Trump’s wife, she was not affiliated with the campaign. Even Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, admitted that Cruz’s campaign had no connection to the ad.

Cruz practices what he preaches, and this is important for a pro-family presidential candidate. It is even more important for politics and parenting culture as a whole: family comes first.