October 20th, 2013
09:08 AM ET
1 year 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. Steve

    Teddy's home state isn't Texas, it's Calgary, Canada. And he's right he doesn't work for the party bosses. In fact, he doesn't work for anyone. Like all politicians he's just a leech.

    October 20, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. B Shear

    The notion that Mr. Cruz works for 26 million Texans is absurd on its face. As a longtime resident of Texas, I can tell you there are many millions of us who are outraged to have this clown as our representative in Texas. Mr. Cruz makes no effort to represent the diverse and nuanced perspectives here, and hopefully, he proves to be too much for even this "red" state to stomach.

    October 20, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. W.

    I don't care the least about Texas, you should work for America. Better yet, turn in your resignation. Next?

    October 20, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Not so fast

    That's right. He actually works for the party bosses south of the US border.

    October 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. jeebus loving bible humpers

    His "Bad Samaritan" theory sums up the shutdown quite well. He is just too blind to see it.

    October 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. SoAmused, I am

    “I work for 26 million Texans.... "
    LIER, lier, there are people in Texas called DEMOCRATS and Independents....
    You don't represent them, smug t..wit of an 8-months on the job senator.
    Have you no shame, sir, no shame at last?....

    October 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Brandon

    Cruz works for himself. He's found a niche w/ the nutjob Teaparty and he's milking it for all the money and power it's worth.

    October 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Latin Dancer

    Oh yeah, Mujahiddin Cruz works for the brothers. He doesn't work for the people.

    October 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. Fair is fair

    Ted Cruz for president!

    October 20, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. DrJ

    Cruz is not dumb. He knows that this sort of toxic behavior plays well in Great State of Texas. Compromise and working behind the scenes with "those liberals" to actually reduce spending and waste in the federal government would be the kiss of death for him come next election. With the rest of the country, however, he is "all hat, no cattle".

    October 20, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Mike

    Ok, help me out here – there seems to be a common opinion that Ted Cruz is looking to run in the next presidential race. But would the GOP even consider nominating him? And, even if he somehow won the nomination, does he really think that even a small minority of Americans would actually consider voting for him. To begin with, wasn't this cowboy born in Alberta, Canada?

    October 20, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Debbie

    Ted Cruz does not speak for Texas. He might speak for a few in Texas, but he doesn't speak for me.

    October 20, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. JulianCA

    While I don't like this guy at all, I also agree that each politician should represent his own electorate and party ties should be a minor consideration. Compared to other modern democracies, US is problematic in trying to have two strong parties. A two-party system can never properly represent individuals because they mix up issues. What if you're anti-abortion but pro-union, what if your anti-gay but pro universal healthcare, and so on. In countries like Canada or UK, you vote for the person that best represents you, even if they might be independent or some minor party affiliation. That is really more what democracy is about. In those countries, as a voter you aren't even loyal to a party, whereas here people act like the parties are football teams and you have to be a loyal fan.

    October 20, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. mickeygib

    Ted Cruz is a Canadian, not a Texan. He was born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother. He was elected to the Senate by the super-rich with the mission of protecting the super-rich. He speaks of less government, and freedom for the people. What he means is less government regulation of the financial markets and environmental polluters. He is a good example of what happens to our democracy when the super-rich like the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdock and international corporations set about to buy the rule-making machine ( Congress ).

    October 20, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Tim Jordan

    Some day the GOP will realize that Cruz is a self-promoting, self-involved, self-deluded egomaniac only interested in his career and his moment in the media sun.

    October 20, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Sky1

    I am one of those 26 million Texans and no he doesn't speak for me and I wish he would stop. He is dangerous a narcissist that is only interested and Ted Cruz, and what the American People can do for Ted Cruz. He and his ilk keep preaching about less government but the legislation they pass ironically is just the opposite.

    October 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. Ron Dallas

    Mathematically speaking, Ted Cruz represents a fraction of 8.4 % of the American population. The US President, on the other hand, speaks for 310, 000,000 (given that the US population is thus) Americans! Who then, may I posit, is in a better position to know what is best for America and her people on a whole?

    This guy, Cruz, a fresh-man, First Class Senator from Texas, is nothing but a misguided, over-enthusiastic, iconoclastic obstructionist who do not speak for the party he claims to be associated with; but rather seeks to disseminate a kind of wild political ideology by employing plenipotentiary manipulations counter-productive to economic growth. Is this the best that Texans can find to represent their interest at the federal level!

    The people of Texas have sent some brilliant men and women to Washington since 1846 when that State joined the Union, from Thomas Jefferson Rusk to John Cornyn, minus Ted Cruz. So then, I bet they will realize that it was a mistake to have elected this eccentric iconoclast and send him packing at the earliest opportunity.

    October 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  18. mickeygib

    Ted Cruz is a puppet whose strings are being pulled by the 1% .

    October 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Jeb

    Cruz works for the Koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. the hippies were right

    The fact of the matter is this. Cruz knew from the start that he couldn't win at defunding Obamacare. But he grandstanded, and preached and fought and got tons of attention from the small percentage of dummies who are considered the tea party. This was Cruz's goal all along, to become popular and admired by these people. While doing this, he and the others that fell in line behind him cost us 24 billion dollars. All you idiots writing here that he is a true American and thanking him are just stupid narrow minded people. You are the same people screaming that the stimulus didn't work and that Obama's spending is out of control. Can you people ever sit back and think about how hypocritical and dumb you are in believing wasting 24 billion dollars and harming the financial stability of thousands of citizens is not only acceptable but rewarded. Good God, wake up!

    October 20, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. dontsitthere

    history will look back on Cruz and Co as our generations worst traitors. blatantly working against the country as a whole to push the twisted, delusional beliefs of the few. their grand-kids will know what they tried to pull off and they won't be proud. with flags a waving and the word "patriot" used in every sentence....the t-party traitors will live in infamy going forward.

    October 20, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Michael Turi

    Politics in Texas is changing. While there certainly are the Ted Cruz types, there is a growing segment of the population tired of the GOP and the BS. I predict it will be a blue state within 10 years

    October 20, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. don in albuquerque

    @dub1045–Nice try at an old joke but, why did the chicken cross the road is still funnier. Now hide and watch as the political machine of both parties crush Crud. What you said may be true but you do not try to run a little gambit costing all Americans 24 billion dollars and not expect some payback. We may yet see some heads roll for treason, and sedition. Hope so....several including Crud are standing in line for it, and richly deserve it.

    October 20, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. Jo Se

    Hispanics for the Tea Party and for Cruz realize that El Negrito uses Hispanics and will betray them.

    October 20, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. michael in houston

    This game Cruz is playing is for one purpose and one purpose only..... positioning for 2016. He is identical to Palin...obsessed with himself and cameras. Extremist views, dangerous to democracy, and of zero interest to this Nation. He like Palin, is a reality show that has no viewers and is simply cramming himself down our throats for attention.

    October 20, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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