October 20th, 2013
09:08 AM ET
12 months ago

Cruz to CNN: ‘I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington’

(CNN) – Back in his home state after the reopening of the government, Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t rule out the idea of again staging the strategy that helped lead to the 16-day partial shutdown and bashed his fellow Senate Republicans for not trying hard enough to dismantle Obamacare.

The Texas Republican, in an exclusive interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash in San Antonio, was unapologetic for fighting to defund President Obama’s health care law in the face of outsized odds, saying he doesn’t work for the “party bosses” in Washington.

‘Part of the club’

Asked whether it bothered him that so many Republican senators expressed outrage at his approach - one that involved a 21-hour talkathon on the Senate floor - the first-year senator said, “not remotely.”

“I work for 26 million Texans. That’s my job, to fight for them. I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington. I work for the people of Texas, and I fight for them,” he said in the interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ted Cruz, back in Texas, rails against fellow Senate Republicans

“Look, the reason people are frustrated all over the country is that far too many people get elected and they think they’re there to be part of the club,” he continued.

Bash added that one of Cruz’s colleagues told her that Republicans in the Senate strongly opposed the senator’s attempt, with one of them saying “it was like an intervention” when they privately tried to convince him to back down.

“They told me that you really didn’t flinch,” Bash said.

But Cruz said he gave the same answer to his Republican colleagues behind closed doors as he gives in front of the cameras.

“What I say privately to my colleagues is the same thing I say publicly,” he said. “And you know what’s interesting? Virtually every person in that room that was criticizing what (Utah Sen.) Mike Lee and I were doing would have said very different things if a camera was in this room. Because what they’re telling their constituents is very different from what they’re saying behind closed doors.”

Police investigating threats against Ted Cruz

Cruz was well received at San Antonio event on Saturday. He entered to a standing ovation and his remarks were met with cheers of "We love Ted Cruz."

"It was tremendously uplifting. It's really good to be home," Cruz said, joking that "it's kind of like DC, except in D.C. they're yelling different things."

‘A very different result’

House Republicans followed Cruz’s rallying cry to attach anti-Obamacare provisions to must-pass spending legislation, but the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to take up anything but a “clean” short-term spending bill, meaning one without anything related to health care.

House Republicans first passed legislation that would defund the law and then a bill that would delay it. Softening some more, they passed a bill that would delay just the individual mandate. But the Senate, with the backing of the White House, continued to reject the legislation, demanding only a clean bill.

With no agreement, the government shutdown took effect October 1.

A defeated GOP wants to unite, move on, fight another day

Even though Republicans are the minority in the Senate, Cruz said, the shutdown could have been avoided if those in his party united to support their colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill.

“Imagine if Senate Republicans had come together, had united and stood side-by-side with House Republicans and had said, ‘we’re with the American people. We want to fund our government. We want to fund every aspect of our government, but we want to answer the American people who are being hurt because of Obamacare,’ ” he said. “We would have ended up with a very different result.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, however, said Sunday on "State of the Union" that the approach "was a fool's errand to start with."

"It was never going to succeed," he added.

Not ruling it out

Ultimately, the House and Senate passed legislation last week that would fund the government through January 15 and extend the debt limit through February 7. In the meantime, select members of the House and Senate will meet to hammer out a long-term budget plan.

“The deal this week was a lousy deal for the American people,” Cruz argued.

While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and McCain have ruled out another government shutdown in the near future, Cruz didn’t take the option off the table.

McCain: No more shutdowns, 'I guarantee it' | McConnell: Further shutdowns 'off the table'

“There will be time enough to talk about specific strategies, specific tactics,” he told Bash. “There are a lot politicians in Washington who want to put Obamacare behind us. Say OK, fine, no more. No more discussing Obamacare. And you know what? The American people are not satisfied with that.”

Some Republican lawmakers argue that rather than taking an aggressive approach against the federal health care law, they just should let it fail on its own, as many of them believe it will.

But Cruz said that was an ill-conceived tactic.

“There are some Republican gray-beards in Washington who make the point ‘Let's just let this collapse … and then Republicans will benefit,’ ” Cruz said, adding that he “profoundly” disagrees with the approach.

“I consider that theory the ‘Bad Samaritan’ theory. Basically, inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. What a terrible, cynical approach. I am not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically if they blame the Democrats for the foolish policies that have been imposed.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Government Shutdown • Ted Cruz • Texas • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (632 Responses)
  1. DonInPLB

    He doesn't represent anyone but Sen. Cruz. He's a loose cannon with a slim hold on reality who is a danger to have in a political position of this responsibility. He wouldn't make a good clerk at the DMV because he has not a modicum of respect for other human beings (and including him as human is a compliment).

    October 20, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. TH001

    Mr. McCain should try and remember how the people greeted him when he went home to face the voters. It wasn't pretty.

    October 20, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. pmag

    He's no different then the Reid's or Pelosi's out there. They work for their narcissistic self and in most cases all have the extreme edges of their party keeping them in place. As for Cruz, anytime any conservative walks and talks in the same circles as Palin, it's an individual not needed in Washington. This would apply to the nut cases in the Democratic party who play this same game with individuals of the same mindset as Palin but the polar opposite in ideologies. Time for a third party to replace the two problem creating party that now exist in Washington.

    October 20, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  4. Mark Dodge

    History and common sense teach us that in a country so grounded in personal liberty and as vast as ours, democracy will only succeed if every elected official remembers that his or her responsibility and duty is to all voters, not only those comprising the majority. And for members of Congress, this means all Americans, not simply one’s home-state majority. Secondly, democracy’s effectiveness depends on compromise. So, Congress, start practicing these basic rules and realize that defeating one’s opponent and winning re-election cannot be primary objectives. Wake up, people, what you do as a Senator is not called “Private Vindication”. Even you refer to it as what it truly is: “Public Service”. “Public” as in “all Americans”, and “Service” as in just that; “what can I do for you?” Not “Do what I want, or else.”

    October 20, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. cliffintex

    Stay the course, Ted! The naysayers (this is CNN, after all) on this post aren't capable of critical thinking, and would be against anything you stood for. You are the first politician in a very long time that did exactly what you campaigned on doing. Keep up the good work and do not kowtow to McConnell and his ilk.

    October 20, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Doctor Fine

    Ted Cruz is a self important childish bully who just got his pee pee caught in a door jamb.

    Serves him right. For defying his oath to uphold the Constitution and its 14th Amendment I want to know why no one in Congress has had him brought up for censure.

    He still thinks he is a super star. He is disgusting and should be called out by Congress -where is the spine of the Republican Congress???

    October 20, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. RandyNewnan23

    Let me get this straight. Ted Cruz shutdown cost 25 billion dollars and helped him raise 2.6 million this year. He has 26 million Texans he represents. So Cruz wasted $1,000 from each of his Texans in order to gain 10 cents donations from each of them for his campaign.

    October 20, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. Fish

    This guy is a loose cannon, why join a party if you're not a team player??? Other party members don't follow lock-step either, yet he insists on his way or the highway, it doesn't compute!!! When Cruz is around run don't walk to the nearest exit!!!

    October 20, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Doctor Fine

    So he admits there ARE party bosses running Washington DC. Thought so.

    October 20, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. Uriel Goldberg

    "I work for an internal terrorist organization whose sole aim is to destroy the current President, and if the entire country is destroyed in the process – that's just collateral damage,"

    October 20, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. fibsernum

    Obama may want to destroy America (or so some rightwing nuts love to proclaim), but I think Cruz has a better shot at it.

    October 20, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. John

    He should be treated as a traitor for trying to overthrow the federal government along with his traitorous t-party cronies. They want the government to fail unless they give in to their terroristic blackmail. Now what should happen to terrorists? You know the answer to that. Cruz is a full fledged terrorist not connected to the middle east.

    October 20, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Loathstheright

    Cruz only works to enrich himself.

    October 20, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. George

    No, indeed he does not work for party bosses in Washington! He works for the Koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  15. Ryan

    I live in Texas, and do contract work for the Federal Government. I've always delivered a working product on time, and on budget. Ted Cruz hurt my business with his shenanigans, and he voted to continue hurting my business by voting to keep the government shut down. I will not be compensated or given back pay for the shut down. Future contracts are going to be held up for at least another 5-6 months because the departments I've done work for won't put projects out for bid while their budget/work situation is uncertain. In short, Ted Cruz has hurt my business, he doesn't work for me, and my preference is he resign from the institution he despises so much, failing that I will certainly oppose his re-election. He's cost my business at least $30k, and I won't forget or forgive, 5 years is too long to wait for this guy to be a bad memory.

    October 20, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Monica

    This guy is dangerous. Period.

    October 20, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. dave

    I live it Texas and I am furious about his behavuor . also disgusted when he compared his stupid speech to the Bataan death march

    October 20, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. megan

    Thank you Ted! A true hero. Please keep working hard for us!

    October 20, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Robert Gemerek

    It's unbelievable that this guy isn't ruling out shutting down the government again. He is messing with a lot of peoples lives and that can be very dangerous as proven by the multiple death threats that he has gotten. Ted Cruz is the epitome of what's wrong with politicians. He's trying to act like he doesn't answer to party bosses yet he clearly answers to the heads of the tea party. I don't know how this sorry excuse for a politician ever got elected but i'm fairly certain that he's going to have a tough time getting reelected.

    October 20, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  20. Faye

    While the US worried about threats from N.Korea, Iran, Al-Qeada cells. It was ultimately a Canadian that shutdown the US gov, but don't worry he did it on "behalf of 26 million Texans". Why thank you for showing America and the world, Mr Cruz that you are a aggressive narcissist willing to put stability, livelihoods and lives at stake.

    October 20, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Dallas

    I'm a proud resident of Texas but this lunatic does not speak for my beliefs. I wish it were possible to recall this loon. Texas has got to get rid of all this "red" and get some "blue"!

    October 20, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. TM

    To quote the senator, "I am not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically...." Really? I'm an American. I'm a tax payer. I, along with all responsible American tax payers, now carry the burden of an additional $24,000,000,000 (look at the size of that number!) in lost income to the economy. How will that be passed on to me, I wonder? I've had it with politicians making blanket declarations including the words "The American people..." and have yet to hear anything remotely expressing the needs and wants of this particular American. Senator Cruz, stop speaking as if you either know what I'm thinking as an American or represent my best interests. You do not. You represent your own best interests. That much is clear......and at great cost to the rest of us.

    October 20, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. The Thinker1958

    he doesn't work for party bosses... he works for the Koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    So Rapheal Cruz says with that Koch Brothers money burning in his pockets. What a dope.

    October 20, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  25. ...

    @Dave, They are referring to collateral damage from the shutdown, businesses and industries that directly or indirectly rely on the government for information, services, or any effects of those operations. That money contributes to the GDP and goes right back into circulation across America. Macroeconomics versus microeconomics.

    October 20, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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