October 20th, 2013
09:08 AM ET
9 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. texas77562

    thank you senator Cruz for standing up to the jihad in the WH the majority of Americans DO NOT WANT Obama care AKA unaffordable care act. They will be in for a surprise when more that half of the Americans will not register or comply to this atrocity. Bring on the fine or what ever, we the people will never comply.

    October 20, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. Bman

    Cruz, "I don't work for party bosses, I work for Koch. I love Koch. the Koch Brothers have given me a backbone. All's I have to do is bend over twice a day, and I've got hard steel supporting me." Oh the ecstasy of modern politics...

    October 20, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. James

    I hope you truly are your own man. If you are, then demand the Congress create debt-free interest-free U.S. Bank Notes, like John F Kennedy did, in accordance with the Constitution to replace the Federal Reserve Notes. Then create public banks to replace private banks and restore America. It is sad that we have a Federal Government bullying the American people and the world, and we wonder why our people are becoming bullies and the world does not respect us. It seems the majority have become takers and users rather than real self sufficient, responsible Americans who take care of themselves, their families and each other and believe they deserve only what they earn for themselves. It's time to cowboy up and cowgirl up America.

    October 20, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. David

    Sen.Ted Cruz should list very specific ways Americans are being or would be hurt by the Affortable Health Care Act. The generalization that "Obamacare is hurting Americans" is not resonating well, outside the senator's own head. Maybe he can also share his views on how the 30 million uninsured would take individual responsibility for thier own healthcare costs (accidents and sudden illness don't just happen if you have insurance.)

    October 20, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Pamela

    If the Tea Party is so strong, why are the hanging onto the GOP apron strings?

    October 20, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  6. BobC

    We know you don't work for party leaders, you work for the Koch brother. But watch your back Ted, you haven't made any friends and the Kochs won't be able to protect you forever.

    October 20, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  7. annieL

    My group health insurance premiums at work went up every year before 2010 when the ACA was passed. The deductibles and co-pays also went up several times before 2010 when the ACA was passed. Apparently, Ted Cruz didn't realize that the private insurance industry has raised people's premiums and out-of-pockets for YEARS. He probably didn't notice because he's a millionaire and he can pay his own medical bills with cash if need be. But now he says Obamacare is to blame if some people find their insurance premiums are higher, even if their coverage is better, their pre-existing conditions no longer excluded, their children up to age 26 allowed to stay on their policies and no annual or lifetime caps on benefits in case of catastrophe illness. He's loves to keep his constituents ignorant and mad at "the gummint" so he can keep his good-paying job in Washington and probably run for president. He's a great deceiver and self-promoter, allright. I'll give him that credit.

    October 20, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Robert N. constant

    Speaking to conservative audiences Ted Cruz bragged that they would shut down the government. Within hours of that speaking on television to a national audience, he blamed the Democrats for shutting down the Government.
    Ted Cruz's father is on record saying he bribed his way out of Cuba during the Batista regime. Ted Cruz campaigning has told audiences that his family escaped from Communist Cuba. These are two instances. I assume there are others. What is evident is that Ted Cruz is a liar.

    October 20, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  9. John The Electrician

    I wounder if Romney loaned him his "magic underwear". If he did, I'm sure he put them on his head.

    October 20, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Congratulations to Sen Ted Cruz. He is doing what Democrats couldn't do, cripple the national Republican brand for many years to come.

    October 20, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  11. leadreviewer

    Good principle.. Too bad he's clueless.

    October 20, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  12. Adrian

    Ted Cruz is Canadian- born, from Calgary Alberta.

    He is not a Texan.

    As for his un-Canadian opinions on health care....

    October 20, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. Pamela

    I bet there are some who vehemently support Ted Cruz who receive some kind of Federal allowance such as VA benefits, Housing Programs, Social Security, Medicare, WIC, School Lunch Program, Farm Subsidies... Ted Cruz as a good Republican probably never accepted any form of Federal assistance in his life.

    October 20, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  14. pokey5735

    Don't ever change, Senator Cruz! We need many more of you to take back our country. Thanks for standing strong!

    October 20, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Bill2000

    Lol, he works for koch industries

    October 20, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Mike

    Obamacare takes away freedom. Americans can buy freedom each year by paying an Obamacare penalty or paying the healthcare pig, but that's really not freedom. Giving the IRS another 2000 reasons to take your home or bank account is insane. I've been able to buy heath care insurance for decades without the help of Obama and the IRS – it was not that hard nor expensive. With Obamacare monthly premiums are through the roof for these $5000.00 deductible policies – and if you don't pay up the IRS will be knocking on your door...

    October 20, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  17. Pamela

    If politicians were really sincere, they would vote for term limits. Many are career politicians who really don't have a clue about their constitutes.

    October 20, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  18. DC1973

    Well, he doesn't work for his party, that's true.

    He doesn't work for the people of Texas, either, though.

    He works for the people who put the money in his pocket, the food in his mouth, and his ridiculous self in that Senate seat.

    October 20, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  19. tired

    he doesn't work for ALL Texans despite his delusions. in fact, he is an embarrassment. this guy is dangerous.

    October 20, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  20. A Citizen

    Cruz is the best public servant of the year! Five years from now Cruz will be seen as a spot-on Hero to the majority of voting Citizens! The USA is in fatal crisis and Cruz is the bravest elected official trying to fix it before the TRILLIONS of Debt default the USA in this decade. Goodbye AAA Credit rating and all the good gone with it. CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT!

    October 20, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Vader

    No Ted. You don't work for "26 million Texans" because you sure weren't working for this one. Your focus is on the minority of the minority far Right, not even the totality of your party.

    October 20, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. got furloughed

    This man would throw Americans under the bus because his own principle is worth more than the well being of others. Nobody doubts how hard he'll fight for the people he represent, but he doesn't represent me nor the majority of Americans. There's a political process for a reason. When you hijack that process in order to get what you want, it is un-American.

    October 20, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. JoelH

    The ACA is going to take up way too much of our tax dollars. It should not ever be funded as a "mandatory" federal appropriation, not ever. Our water lines, our aging sewage systems, and our transportation and infrastructure should take far more precedence and funding. I think Obama is hell bent on making America like some third world country. Really. He wants everyone lining up to receive food rations and water rations. He could care less if we are losing our competitive edge. All he wants is as many illegal immigrants to invade our country, use up precious resources, deny states money they rightly deserve for water line uprages and sewage plant upgrades. All he talks about is tax, tax, tax. Doesn't matter to him that he has no clue how to even read a balance sheet, has any clue what his agency heads are doing or what "projects" they are wisely nvesting in. He has no clue the difference between spending and investing. Thank God there are some Senators that are brazen enough to keep him in check. BTW why is our deficit still so high if all the financial institutions paid back the TARP money? Where is that money anyway?

    October 20, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. imhotep

    I have to say that Ive always been a republican but I have to hang my head in shame on how they have handled this whole situation. They didnt get what they wanted and tried to take their ball and go home. Truly disgraceful.

    October 20, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  25. keven

    Problem is he forgets that he's to represent ALL the people in his state, NOT just the one's that voted for him.
    He says he's represents 26 million Texans,
    He won 56% of the vote. He is not representing, or even acknowledging the 46% who do not endorse him.
    How can any reasonable person be so arrogant?

    October 20, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
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