November 8th, 2013
10:13 PM ET
10 months ago

Ted Cruz makes his late-night debut

Updated 11/9/2013 at 1:04pm ET

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer limiting his speaking engagements to friendly GOP events and marathon talks on the Senate floor, appearing for the first time Friday on late-night television.

The Texas Republican was on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to talk about his growing reputation as a tea party firebrand and his stances on issues such as Obamacare and same-sex marriage.

Cruz has fast become one of the most outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

He fed 2016 speculation as one of the leaders of the Defund Obamacare movement in Congress, an effort that helped precipitate the partial government shutdown when Democrats flatly refused to pass a government funding bill that also sought to destroy the health care law.

Reid: Cruz 2016 nomination would destroy GOP

For Cruz, the shutdown blame was and has been all on the Democrats. “I said throughout, we shouldn’t shut down the government,” he said Friday.

The shutdown happened only because Democrats “said ‘we will not negotiate and we will not compromise,’ ” Cruz said.

Democrats said that negotiating under duress was not negotiation and that the blame falls to Cruz and other Republicans’ uncompromising crusade against Obamacare.

That crusade gained Cruz intense ire from Democrats and even some Republicans, a situation that seemed to suit him just fine Friday. Asked by Leno about descriptions of the freshman senator as aggressive, arrogant and abrasive, Cruz said, "Don't believe everything you read."

"What I'm trying to do is do my job," he said. "And occasionally people don't like it."

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Cruz again tried to don a Reagan-esque mantle Friday, claiming that the Gipper launched a “grass-roots revolution” in the Republican Party in the 1980s. The clear implication is that Cruz believes he has spawned his own grass-roots revolution against Obamacare, boasting of gaining 2 million signatures on a petition against the health care law.

On that topic, Cruz continued to maintain his tried-and-true talking points: that the law is destructive and harmful, costing people jobs and money on their premiums.

Cruz avoided accusations of only wanting to do away with health care reform.

"I'm a big believer in health care reform," Cruz said.

"I think we ought to reform health care so it's personal, it's portable, it's affordable. We ought to empower patients rather than government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor."

Cruz also touched on some of the debate surrounding his father, Rafael Cruz, a businessman and evangelical pastor who's made a number of controversial comments, including calling on President Barack Obama to be sent "back to Kenya." The two have frequently campaigned together, and Cruz has often called his father his inspiration.

Ted Cruz responds to father's 'ill-advised joke'

The comments that Cruz responded to Friday involved his father’s opposition to same-sex marriage, an opposition the younger Cruz shares. But he has said he feels that the issue is one that should be determined state to state.

Politics is a dirty game, Cruz acknowledged.

"Some folks have decided to try to go after him because they want to take some shots at me," Cruz said.

"But I think the critics are better off attacking me."


Filed under: Ted Cruz
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. jsl123

    If he's worried about Americans being hurt by "Obamacare", why isn't he concerned about the Americans he hurt by shutting down the government? He still gets his benefits doesn't he? He should try working for a living like the rest of us.

    November 9, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  2. Steve

    This time next year (employer insurance open-enrollment), millions of people will wish he succeeded in blocking this ill-thought-out disaster that is looming.

    November 9, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  3. flatbushfred

    I stopped watching Leno a while ago, because it was clear where his politics were and who he sees as his audience. I'm glad he's on his way out.

    November 9, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. Goodbye G.O.P!

    Keep up the great work, Ted!!

    November 9, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. PaulC

    Cruz would have more credibility if he actually offered a healthcare plan that was personal, portable, and affordable.
    he seems perfectly happy for the millions of uninsured Texans that he represents remain without healthcare but then, he is not among the great uninsured benefiting from the free clinics and emergency rooms.

    November 9, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  6. keven

    Father Cruz is a raving, racist nut job, twisting the bible for his own agenda. Ted Cruz, well the apple don't fall far from the tree...

    November 9, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Cadillacjoe

    I pray Ted Cruz runs for President, and gets the fervent support of every tea party group. Let them prop him up and get him the nomination. In the general election, the only states that would vote for this guy are the ones who would not vote for Jesus if he ran as a Democrat.

    November 9, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  8. Jackie Whitt

    Ted Cruz is a demi god along with Issa, has he created any jobs or health care plan, No. They think their idea is going to get him in the White house. Another tea party to bite the dust in the next election. Waste of time for the American people who follow this garbage. He should be ashamed of what he is doing, of course money is his gain. Just like Palin, she has no knowledge on how the government is run and says stupid things. Socialism, I wish someone would ask her to explain that word. Really, she said Africa was a country. See Russia from my house. Paul Revere was riding to say the Briitish was coming. Really, now tea party crazies. Yet people pay to listen to these people, just like sending money to TV preachers to get saved. WoW what a sham.

    November 9, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. Liz the First

    Cruz's toxic ideas would do nothing to advance our democracy or our progress toward a better future. i hope he is the '16 nominee. it'll be the last nail in the republican party's coffin and then we can then bury it with a stake through its heart so it can't do any more damage to our great country. it breaks my heart to think how much progress we could have made if trillions of dollars had not had to be spent cleaning up after republicans' tragically misguided attempts at governing. 'epic fail' doesn't even begin to describe their ideology.

    November 9, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. John

    Ted Cruz and the Tea Party Is the worst thing that ever happen to this Country, the only thing that Ted Cruz cares about Is Ted Cruz. And In was born In Canada so he can't run for POTUS.

    November 9, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  11. McRCN

    Just think how different the news about ObamaCare would have been today if Obama would have taken the 1-year delay when he had the change on OCT 1st.

    November 9, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. truthteller

    Whenever the GOP can't push their agend through, they always fall back on their mantra that it should be a State issue. Translation = We can't convince the Country to do our bidding but we can fool our Trailer Park followers.

    November 9, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  13. blue max

    didnt the gop say obama was not born in the usa, therefore he could not be president? cruz cant deny he was born in canada. do the same rules apply? simple solution...deport cruz.

    November 9, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Never forget Crux's COUP to forcefully overthrow our Government because it was never about Obamacare because it's a law. Cruz used the same tactics as his former Cuban Dictator Castro did to gain power the only difference is Cruz and his family "Cut AND RAN LIKE COWARDS RATHER THAN TO STAY AND FIGHT LIKE WE AMERICANS DO".

    November 9, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  15. jack

    What a waste of air-time. Rather watch mud-wrestling.

    November 9, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. Jay

    We need more political figures like Mr. Cruz. He has morals probably because of his Christian childhood. Sometimes to do the right thing is not always going to be popular!!! God Bless You and Your Family!

    November 9, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  17. Mark

    Mr. Cruz....please leave the Republican Party and form your own Tea Party.
    You DO NOT represent old school fiscal conservative Republicans who still have compassion for our fellow man.

    If you really believe in the Tea Party....and think enough Americans do...than why not form your own Party.
    You would be rid of us core Republicans that have no use for you, and you can build whatever platform you want with no push back, DO IT....and leave us alone.

    November 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. Jim

    Cruz and his tea party cronies are more a threat to American life than Muslim terrorists.

    November 9, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  19. Larry38363

    Why does the media keep promoting this guy? He's nothing more than someone on an ego trip exalting himself like the tea party at everyone else's expense.

    November 9, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  20. AM

    Cruz needs to go back to Canada. I hope he doesn't get re-elected in Texas again

    November 9, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  21. e.j.

    Take the Cruz off air. He does not speak my type of government. Actually there is little about him that appeals to me. I am not in favor of someone who cannot compromise in order to keep our government working!

    November 9, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. lewtwo

    Cruz should stick to late night TV ... the later the better.

    November 9, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. Jon KIng

    All of these people are actors cashing in. Rush, Beck, Hannity, Cruz, Palin, Bachman just play the part and end up with boatloads of cash. It is a great business model being a right wing mouth piece.

    November 9, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  24. Thinkergal

    "Personal, portable, and affordable"? A good description of the ACA. Ted has no new ideas, just a fanatic's brain on overdrive. And his papa, too.

    November 9, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. ellamvaram

    Repeated, since of late, we hear the Right Wingers referring to our President Obama as a "liar". How dare they do that, especially to the President of the United States. Where's their respect to the Head of their own State? Furthermore, these guys and gals forget, and they forget so soon that President George W. Bush took this Country and many others alone with our Country to war with the greatest of all "lies", and one is saying anything about it. Why? When thousands of our young boys and girls were killed in that war because of the "greatest lie" of all that the Bush's Administrated told the world. Come on you guys. Be wise, be civil, be good citizens. PLEASE.

    November 9, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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