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Ted Cruz talks policy, mean tweets and ‘Star Wars’ on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

Ted Cruz and Jimmy Kimmel

Ted Cruz makes an appearance on the show “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

(ABC)

Long before he entered politics, presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Wednesday, he considered moving to Hollywood to pursue one of his early passions: acting.

“When I was in high school, I did a lot of shows and then actually thought about dropping out of school and heading to California and trying to be an actor,” Cruz told Jimmy Kimmel during a taping of his ABC late-night show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

His parents were “horrified,” Cruz said. “Everything was great except I didn’t have good looks and I didn’t have talent,” he told Kimmel. “Look, other than that, I was completely set to do that.”

The Texas senator was in Southern California this week to raise money for his presidential bid. A fundraiser in Newport Beach will feature two of his former rivals for the Republican nomination — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina.

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Cruz said he hoped the proceeds could be spent in the state before California’s June 7 primary, which will be critical in determining whether front-runner Donald Trump can win the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination before the Republican National Convention in July.

“We are hopefully coming back with lots of cash to put ads on TV and then hopefully win some votes,” he said.

The television interview grew testy as Cruz and Kimmel sparred over President Obama’s healthcare reform law.

Cruz declared the Affordable Care Act a “disaster” that needed to be overturned. Kimmel said he had not heard from one person who felt that way.

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Cruz replied that he was unsurprised, given the “millionaire Hollywood movie stars and rock stars” Kimmel regularly hosts on his show.

“Do you think those are the only people I hang around with?” Kimmel said.

Cruz countered that in Wisconsin, countless voters told him about crushing increases in their healthcare premiums that prompted some to cancel their coverage. Small-business owners were similarly harmed, he said.

“I have never done one of those round tables where at least half the small-business owners didn’t list Obamacare as the single biggest challenge they’re facing,” Cruz said.

The pair also disagreed about Cruz’s call for law enforcement to patrol Muslim neighborhoods.

Kimmel questioned how the proposal fit Cruz’s stand as a strict constitutionalist and said he feared such an effort would increase radicalization among Muslims who felt unfairly targeted by the American government.

Cruz replied that law enforcement must do whatever is necessary to keep the nation safe from radical Islamists who have carried out attacks in San Bernardino, Paris and, most recently, Brussels.

They agreed to disagree, with Cruz quipping: “I’ll cross you off the list for Homeland Security” secretary.

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This being late-night television, Cruz took part in a popular segment where celebrities read mean tweets people have written about them. Among the tweets Cruz read: “Ted Cruz is a born leader … of nerd storm-trooper costume enthusiasts.”

“Them’s my peeps,” Cruz told reporters after filming the bit.

During the interview, Cruz said that he had seen all seven “Star Wars” movies and that the final installment, “The Force Awakens,” almost made him cry.

“Han Solo was my hero,” Cruz said. “I’m not going to spoil it, but I’ll just say there is an image in that movie that was traumatic at a level I never wanted to see.”

seema.mehta@latimes.com

For the latest 2016 campaign news, follow @LATSeema on Twitter.

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