How does Ted Cruz, a champion debater at Princeton University, attorney who argued before the Supreme Court and now Republican White House aspirant, prepare for Thursday's presidential debate?
By spending two days holed up in a townhouse on Capitol Hill, discussing strategy and how to break through in a field of 10 candidates while still staying on message.
"Our focus is simply conveying the same core message that we convey in every forum," Cruz, who rarely has problems staying on message, said in an interview with The Washington Post. "Which is that we’ve seen far too many campaign conservatives who talk a good game on the campaign trail but don’t follow through on their commitments."
Cruz said he has a "trusted" team of friends and advisers -- he wouldn't name names, but his senior staff was there preparing with him -- who have spent hours getting ready for the debate.
"Part of that preparation has consisted of discussing strategy, what messages we want to convey, what messages other candidates will want to convey and how one communicates with 10 somewhat conflicting messages all on the same stage at the same time," he said. "Other portions of it have consisted simply of holding moots, facing tough questions and trying to give the best answer you can."
The team has staged mock debates for the Texas Republican, where people play the role of other candidates (Cruz didn't say who played whom) and try to approximate what Cruz's rivals might say in Cleveland.
"Of course in any debate the best answers are those that are spontaneous and react to the events on the ground and I assume that will be the case on Thursday as well," he said.
It was clear Cruz had been practicing messaging when asked how he would respond to the person everyone will be watching in the debate: Donald Trump, whom Cruz has defended on immigration and met with privately in New York last month.
"I expect my approach to all of the other candidates to remain consistent," he said. Cruz said the Republican presidential field is "an amazingly diverse field with young, talented dynamic leaders."
"It stands in sharp contrast to the Democratic field, which at times feels like a rerun of the TV sitcom 'That 70's Show,'" he said.
Cruz said he views Thursday's debate as a small piece of the larger primary campaign.
"In many ways this debate is simply one stop on an ongoing conversation and every campaign speech every media interview, every town hall with grassroots activists is part of that same conversation," he said.
It will undoubtedly be a much different experience than his time debating at Princeton, where Cruz was a member of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society. Princeton's debate team named its novice championship after Cruz: the "Ted Cruz Living Memorial Novice Championship."
In his book, "A Time for Truth," Cruz called debate "the most rewarding experience of college."
Cruz's roommate and best friend, David Panton, with whom he bonded over games of cards and "Super Mario Brothers" was his debate partner. The team partied after debates.
"College debate was great fun, and it was a terrific learning experience, but unsurprisingly a far more juvenile endeavor than debating in a presidential campaign," Cruz said.