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Sen. Ted Cruz Was 'That Guy' Back in Law School

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

Ted Cruz is a polarizing figure, misunderstood by many, but a profile of the conservative Texas senator from his Harvard Law School days paints a clear portrait of someone we all know: the gunner.

From raising his hand constantly in class, to setting his eyes on a Supreme Court clerkship before school even started, his path seemed to be that of the gunner -- one who is destined to either do great things, or become the impotent small-town prosecutor that presses for decades in prison for jaywalking.

He's now Senator Ted Cruz and a potential presidential candidate. What was he like back then?

Gunner ... or Leader?

"He came in with his right hand raised and basically kept it raised the entire semester," Alan Dershowitz, who taught Cruz in a first-year criminal law class told the Boston Globe. "Every year you see two or three students who you know are natural leaders. Everybody saw that with Barack Obama ... Everybody saw that with Elena Kagan. There are students who come in with charismatic qualities who other people follow. He was one of them."

OK, his professor called him a leader, but his classmates were probably screaming (internally), "Gunner!"

Gunner Score: 4 out of 5 bullets.

The Study Group

And, of course, there's the infamous study group anecdote, reported by GQ, where Cruz allegedly voiced his concerns over studying with anyone who was not a Harvard, Princeton, or Yale graduate, calling the other schools, "minor Ivies."

Cruz has denied the story, calling it "complete nonsense," and according to the Globe, one member of the study group was a Northwestern alum.

Gunner Score: 5 out of 5 bullets.

Three Journals

Yes, you read that right: three law review journals. He was a principal editor of the Harvard Law Review, a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review (credited as "Rafael E. Cruz"), and was a member of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (credited as "R. Ted Cruz").

OK, at this point, out of the two divergent destinies of the gunner, it should've been obvious that he was headed for big things. Gunners are often overachievers with something to prove (check), but the rarest of all birds is the intelligent gunner who can sit on three journals.

Gunner Score: a respectful 5 out of 5 bullets.

Chief Justice Rehnquist

From Day 1 in law school, Cruz set his sights on a clerkship with then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He was so focused on the goal that he learned tennis, as Rehnquist was known to have weekly matches with his clerks. He got the job, though he admits that he was "horrifically bad at tennis."

Gunner Score: 4 out of 5 bullets, but only because he actually got the gig.

Embarrassing Alcohol Story

We all have these stores, right? Well, most of us do, and Cruz is no exception.

An avid thespian, he appeared in the law school's rendition of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," though after the cast's first successful performance, he hit the Everclear so hard that he was unable to finish the performance the following evening.

Apparently, there is a video of him sitting on stage for five minutes before meekly uttering a line and walking off stage, but the only video available online seems to be of his much more sobering first-day performance.

Gunner Score: 2 out of 5 bullets. Though he "gunned" away at the Everclear, not many gunners can and will party that hard, nor will they participate in extracurriculars.

In Sum

Add all of that up, and what do you get? The most dangerous type of gunner: the driven and intelligent kind. Some wouldn't call these men gunners at all: they're just destined to succeed.

Final Gunner Score: 4 out of 5 bullets.

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