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.
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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.
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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."
Cruz says he wants a health care plan that is "personal. portable and affordable." Funny thing, the Affordable Care Act is all of those. Cruz lies to the public and the press and the media never call him on it. What is his real agenda?
cruz's twisted logic is unbelievable. the man is an impostor.. maybe he, like Romney, feels the American people are stupid. not.
Yes, the rollout of ObamaCare has been a fiasco.
That said, this buffoon is the Kanye West of the Senate. For someone who talks a lot, he sure doesn't say very much.
We can talk about getting rid of the ACA when the GOP comes up with a better solution to 25% of the country running up $150B a year in medical bills that the rest of us are paying for . Seems to me with the whole country insured, we would need another million people to take care of them all.
This guy should go jump off a cliff He looks like a twisted Pee Wee Herman... Sorry Pee Wee
Cruz says the Democrates won't negotiate, and we won't compromise. Isn't that like saying we won't negotiate. I thought that in real negotiations , both sides should come to the middle or close to it
Leno deserved to be boycotted after having this male Palin appear. Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Can't wait for Jimmy F
This guy is a dangerous, dangerous joke. He should be nowhere near D.C., yet here we are, thanks to some low-info, Fox-watching (and believing) voters down in Tex-as.
Check my Facebook about IT. Search for James Amburgey.
Despite all the brutal attacks,tricks and lies against him,Ted Cruz is the best and most honest Republican.
Dammmmn the dems sure are scared of Cruz/
As the biggest joke in American politics, I think Ted Cruz BELONGS on late night TV.
Keep the pressure on Ted! We love you!!!
Cruz advocated shutting down the government during his "fake" filibuster. He made a fool of himself and his party. He is NOT presidential material.
I saw this interview and Cruz is a real politician in every sense. He answered pointed questions by changing the subject and deflecting the real issues. The worst part of his response was a clear throwback to issues that have been resolved, and which he seems intent on perpetuating. Jay Leno did a great job of bringing these questions to the forefront, and the audience was responsive to reason – but not so much to Cruz' dancing around. It reminded me of the weird way Romney had of grinning his way out of difficult pressures to be straightforward. Yikes.
Well, now we know why the Republicans were pushing so much against Obamacare. If the extremists from both sides would bow out, and let moderates of both sides straighten out what they have done America would heal, and grow. If you want Democracy to change, as apparently Obama does to Socialism, then you're going to love him. If not Congress should perhaps start empeachment.
Leno still around?
Did ted bin laden fly down from his country of birth, Canada just to make a bigger fool of himself and that crazy messiah papi of his?
The whole family is crazy.
He has mastered the art of saying the plausible, if not laudable – but standing square in the way of progress. He's an incredibly smart, selfish politician who threatens to seriously hurt the republic – all in the name of saving it – in order to advance his personal cause.
This charlatan is a glowing symbol of all that is wrong with the GOP these days.
Cruz is born in Canada so let's not kid ourselves... He is a foreign born Texan. Too bad, but I want an American President Teddy!
Ted Cruz reminds me of Miley Cyrus because he is not afraid to incur the wrath of even some of his fans for the greater good of drawing attention to himself.
I really think the government shut down is the political version of "tweaking".
He needs a neck lift!!
Why do Ted Crud has a problem with my personal health problems? Why?! Everyone pitches in, it's the right thing to do. If you don't want to pitch in, move to China.
Cruz denies being arrogant, yet that was his reputation when he was working for George W. Bush's campaign. He was loathed by others working on the campaign. When he was at Harvard, he refused to associate with anyone didn't do their undergraduate work at Harvard or Yale. He's been pompous all his life.
Facts are not relevant to Cruz, and that's why Leno should have broiled him. But, that's not funny, is it? Tough go for Jay!