Ted Cruz is not a morning person.
There are the emails with the 1 a.m. time stamp, dinners that start when some people go to bed and meetings that stretch late into the night. Don’t expect to see him bright and early on the campaign trail — in a field of GOP presidential candidates where 8 a.m. events happen with some regularity, Cruz starts late in the morning, often clutching a cup of coffee.
Cruz is a “night owl,” his wife, Heidi, says, telling voters her husband shares nocturnal tendencies with his mother.
“When he comes home from the campaign trail, they’re often in the living room talking late, late into the night” over tea, she said last month.
For her birthday in August, Heidi Cruz said, her husband got back from campaigning in the evening and took her to dinner after 11 p.m., when he “should have been sleeping.”
But he usually isn’t at that hour.
“I think dinner hour for Cruz is pretty much 10 p.m.,” said Amanda Carpenter, an author and commentator who served as Cruz’s Senate communications director. In Washington, he has been known to frequent the Capital Grille well into the night.
While campaigning, Cruz hits his stride in the late afternoon and early evening. His delivery and animation — and his ability to make news — become stronger and more pointed with each passing hour. Cruz uncorked his first attacks on Donald Trump in front of voters in New Hampshire at night. He is a fan of dinner events and evening rallies that start after 6 p.m.
“He does get up and does the early events, too, but not as many; he probably doesn’t prefer to,” said Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler. “He does stay up late. He likes to stay up late, that’s just the way his clock is.”
As Chip Roy, his former Senate chief of staff put it: “You didn’t often try to set 7 a.m. radio interviews or television shows because it didn’t really fit his rhythm.”
What did he do instead?
“He had no problem if you scheduled for him to go have a late dinner or drinks with somebody at 9 p.m. That didn’t faze him in the slightest,” Roy said.
In January, Cruz popped into a packed truck-stop diner in Missouri Valley, Iowa, at 10:45 p.m., pouring coffee for lagging patrons. The candidate was filled with energy as the clock ticked toward midnight, posing for selfies and shaking hands long after he had finished speaking.
“Thanks to all of y’all for coming out late on a winter evening to be with us today,” Cruz said at the diner, standing behind the counter of an establishment whose blue-plate special was a $7.99 hot meatloaf sandwich.
“I’ll be taking breakfast orders,” Cruz said, despite the hour. “Hash browns, eggs over easy.”
At one stop last year billed “Taco pizza with Ted,” there was no taco pizza because the event started too late — after 10 p.m.
The late hours can be an issue for supporters or undecided voters who want to see Cruz. Toward the end of the campaigning ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Cruz held evening rallies with so many warm-up speakers that some people started streaming for the exits as the hour grew late. In Sioux City, Cruz went on for an hour and a half past the rally’s original start time; in Des Moines, things went so late on a weeknight that people bolted for the door before he was finished.
But those who work with and know Cruz well have become accustomed to the late nights. In the Senate, strategy sessions with Cruz and his staff sometimes stretched until 2 a.m., on issues such as guns or the Affordable Care Act. The group all commuted to Washington without their families, making the late-hours schedule a bit more palatable.
“I don’t think either of us went to sleep before 1 a.m. the entire time we were there,” said Brooke Bacak, Cruz’s former Senate legislative director, referring to herself and Roy.
Cruz often injected levity into the sessions, showing staffers YouTube videos that made him laugh, including clips from “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live.”
But for every late night, there was often a slow morning, especially when there was a breakfast meeting or early television appearance.
“A lot of times you would have to text him to make sure he was getting out of bed for a pick-up,” Carpenter said.
Staffers knew not to get in touch until later in the day if they needed a quick response.
“If I wanted an answer to something, there was no way I’d send it before 10 a.m., because I knew it would get lost in the flow, and he wouldn’t get to it until later that night,” she said.
In South Carolina, which holds a Republican primary Saturday, the earliest Cruz event this week started at 10 a.m. There are, of course, events each night.
“When you’re geared toward late-night events, mornings are harder,” Tyler said of his boss.