“I guess you don’t want my support... Ted, what the hell do you think I am?”

In a never-before-reported meeting in Bush’s Dallas office, Cruz began to outline his 2012 campaign playbook for the former president, according to people familiar with the conversation. Cruz explained how he would consolidate conservatives yearning for a political outsider, how he would outflank the front-runner on the right, how he would proudly carry the mantle of the ascendant tea party to victory over entrenched elites.

It was impressive foreshadowing. But Bush cut Cruz off before he could finish.

“I guess you don’t want my support,” Bush interrupted. “Ted, what the hell do you think I am?”

If the idea of a private meeting between Bush and Cruz seems strange now, it was not so odd at the time. While Cruz is running for president in 2016 as the consummate outsider, he launched his political career as a Bush administration insider, and his relationship with the GOP establishment is far deeper and more complex than he lets on.

On the trail today, Cruz bashes the “Washington cartel,” jokes of being so hated in the U.S. Capitol that he needs a “food-taster,” and says at nearly every stop, “If you see a candidate Washington embraces, run and hide.”

But 16 years ago, as a young domestic policy adviser for Bush’s 2000 campaign, Cruz himself had sought Washington’s embrace.