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First Mention: Ted Cruz Helps George W. Bush Secure Presidency

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

OK, now seems like a good time for a presidential campaign edition of our feature called - wait for it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: First mention.

MCEVERS: That's when we do a bit of digging into the archives to find when NPR listeners first heard about certain people and things.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Today, we hear the moment the name Ted Cruz debuted on NPR. It was November 20, 2000, about two weeks after the presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

MCEVERS: The Florida Supreme Court was hearing arguments from the Gore and Bush lawyers about the state's disputed recount. And NPR listeners were hearing from Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University. He was a guest on the former NPR show TALK OF THE NATION.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

JEFFREY ROSEN: The Bush brief is signed by Alex Azar, a conservative lawyer who worked for Kenneth Starr, by Ted Cruz, who is the Bush campaign lawyer.

SHAPIRO: Yep. Ted Cruz was part of the Bush legal team during the 2000 election. The team ultimately helped to end the Florida recount and secured the election for George W. Bush. Five years later, we heard the voice of Ted Cruz on NPR.

MCEVERS: It was March 28, 2005. The U.S. Supreme Court was hearing the case Medellin versus Dretke. Without getting too into the weeds, it was a complicated case involving an international treaty and a Mexican man convicted in the state of Texas. And before he argued in front of the court, the Texas solicitor general, Ted Cruz, got on the phone with NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

TED CRUZ: Violations of the treaty have to be dealt with at the diplomatic level. They can't form the basis of a legal claim that you or I or any other individual can bring on his or her own behalf in court.

SHAPIRO: We also found some tape of Cruz arguing that case in the Supreme Court. Here is then Chief Justice William Rehnquist calling on Cruz.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAM REHNQUIST: Now, Mr. Cruz, we'll hear from you.

CRUZ: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court, at the outset, two issues bear emphasis. First, the court need not and should not address the many interesting issues of international law and constitutional law that swirl about this case.

ANTONIN SCALIA: They really are interesting, you know?

CRUZ: They are indeed, and this may launch a thousand law review articles.

SHAPIRO: That was the late Justice Antonin Scalia teasing now presidential candidate Ted Cruz back in 2005. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.