Beaumont, Texas (CNN) – Sen. Ted Cruz accused his own Republican leadership of “trickery” in trying to force a “show vote” on raising the debt ceiling last week, warning Republicans will get “clobbered in the polls” for not standing up for principle.
"What Republican leadership said is we want this to pass, but if every senator affirmatively consents to doing it on 51 votes, then we can all cast a vote no and we can go home to our constituents and say we opposed it. And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the - to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.
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In my view, we need to be honest with our constituents. And last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency. I think all 45 Republicans should have stood together and said of course not.,” Cruz told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash in a network exclusive interview airing on CNN.
Last week, Cruz angered many fellow Republicans by blocking a vote to raise the debt ceiling and forcing them to take a politically perilous vote.
Cruz's move meant 60 votes were needed to avoid defaulting on America’s loans – so GOP leaders voted against Cruz' filibuster, which put them in the crosshairs of conservatives and frustrated with Cruz
“Go back to those Senate lunches. I - I won't identify anything, but I'll - I'll tell you several people raised a question just like you did there - why are you trying to throw five Republicans under the bus and make them vote for raising the debt ceiling?
And I'll tell you my response. My response is I don't want to throw any Republicans under the bus. I would like to see all 45 Republicans stand together and actually do what we tell our constituents.”
Bash asked whether – on a human level – whether it stings to have so many fellow senators from his own party so angry with him.
“As a human being, I can't control what they say, how they behave. I can control what I do. So every interaction that I have with every senator, Republican or Democrat, is consistently civil, courteous, respectful, treating them with - with the dignity that they deserve, “ replied Cruz.
Here are other highlights from the interview:
Not worried about standing with other Republicans: Cruz fortified his standing among grassroots conservatives with his opposition to the debt ceiling deal. Last year he was one of the leaders of conservatives who blocked an agreement that would have avoided the 16-day partial federal government shutdown in an effort to defund President Barack Obama’s health care law. If Cruz is worried about relationships with other Republicans in the Senate, he didn't sound like it.
"What I try to keep an eye on is I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington. I work for 26 million Texans,” he said.
Cruz stood by his attempt to block the debt ceiling votes, insisting his efforts were based on transparency and fairness to conservative voters, not to political damage his colleagues in the GOP.
“The funny thing is what I told the voters of Texas, I guarantee you all 45 Republican senators tell voters in their states the same thing, which is they're going to lead the fight to stop the spending and to stop the debt and if 45 Republicans had stood together, nobody gets thrown under the bus.”
Ted on Ted: Republicans have been called to distance themselves from the aging rock star, who has been a frequent GOP campaigner, after he called Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Cruz said he doesn’t share Nugent’s sentiment but, “There's a reason… people listen to him.”
“He has been fighting passionately for Second Amendment rights," Cruz said of Nugent. "And this administration has demonstrated an incredible hostility to the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens."
Cruz suggested a double standard in news coverage, insisting that incendiary comments from the left don't get the same attention.
Backbone wins elections: Some Republicans fear Cruz's image outside of the conservative wing might cost them an opportunity to take back the Senate. But Cruz said it's Republicans backing down from principles that's costing them elections.
"The Washington establishment think Republicans win elections by you don't stand for anything, you keep your head down, you don't rock the boat. You know what? Every time we do that we get clobbered in the polls,” Cruz said.
Cruz pointed to the midterm elections in 2010, when the tea party wave swept Republicans into the majority in the House, as the only recent election where his party took a stand.
Obama 'utterly ineffectual' against Putin: Cruz called the Obama administration’s policy toward Russia and the unrest in Ukraine “misguided.”
“You know, if you look at the last five years, one of the tragic results is U.S. leadership has been receding. We have been shrinking. And into that vacuum others, like Iran, like Russia, have expanded. Putin is trying to reassemble the old Soviet Union and - and this administration's foreign policy has been utterly ineffectual standing up to prevent that.”
A shot at a possible rival: Cruz dismissed possible 2016 GOP presidential rival Rand Paul's criticism of Bill Clinton's "predatory behavior" in the White House – he said he had plenty of problems with Clinton's wife.
"I'm a lot less concerned with Bill Clinton's escapades decades ago than I am with Hillary Clinton's consistently wrong record when it comes to foreign policy, when it comes to domestic policy,” Cruz said of the comments from the GOP senator from Kentucky.
"Throughout her tenure, Hillary Clinton has embraced the same far-left agenda. Before Obamacare there was Hillarycare. And that agenda hurts people who are struggling.”
Correct the Record, a group created to defend potential Democratic presidential candidates, took issue with Cruz's comments regarding Clinton.
"Not surprising, Ted Cruz just doesn't know his facts. Secretary Clinton helped restore America's leadership and standing in the world during a time of global challenges and changes. As a U.S. Senator, she worked to expand health care for National Guard members and reservists. In the Senate, she worked to strengthen the Children's Health Insurance Program, which increased coverage for children in low income and working families, a program she helped create as First Lady," said Adrienne Watson, the group's deputy communications director.
Calling out Kerry, doubting climate change: Cruz said that the data on global warming doesn’t support environmental activists’ argument.
"You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called 'scientific theory' that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they've defined it, can never be disproved,” he said.
He called Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks that climate change is a national security threat “ironic” considering the other major crises rocking the world.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent comments that climate change ranks among the world's most serious problems has sparked outrage, particularly from Republicans.
"He sees a greater threat from your SUV than he does to Iranian nuclear weapons,” Cruz said.
CNN's Dana Davidsen, John Helton, and CNN Senior Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
He would be far funnier if he were not actually in a position of some power. It just makes him kind of creepy and scary when you think he is in the same chambers that housed some of the greatest political leaders of our nation......and it is even scarier to think there is a state that actually considers him a viable representative. Means there is a whole heap of stupid in Texas.
And what principle is it that cruz is lamenting. Not forcing the. United States to default on debt. The debt ceiling is a relic of a bygone era that needs to be eliminated from law so we do not get this kind of shenanigans over paying our bills.
The GOP is so fractured with extremists, Tea-Partiers and moderates.
They have no leadership, and are merely he11-bent on trying yo reverse things like: Roe vs Wade, ACA.
I love his consistently made of facts saing EVERYONE would rather have a closed government and if there is ANY kind of bipartisan cooperation they are killing the country and pretty much terrorists. He is the only terrorist . He uses high school if you don't do this you won't be cool strategy and it is sad at best. Why not attack their masculinity or call them gay if they don't fully agree with your views while your at it ted? Such a child.
I am a conservative...I have only voted for a Democrat once in my life. I must admit...Ted Cruz is a major portion of what is wrong in my party right now. As a precinct vice-chair and state delegate, I am tired of people like Cruz that are a significant detriment to my party. I do believe that they have woken up enough of the silent majority of my party. I can't wait for the next caucus and state convention so that we can get some of these characters out of here.
Say goodbye Sen. Cruz and the others like you, I am tired of the division that people like you and parts of the Democratic Party are causing. I am voting for someone who doesn't mind compromising :)
Anyone remembers Senator Al D'amato? The same thing will happen to Ted Cruz.
Bush, Perry, Cruz. Texas is the state for idiot politicians
I continue to be amazed by Repubs like Cruz who blame others for their own failures. Is he not from the party of personal responsibility? He has much to learn from people like myself who overcame poverty and racism to achieve the American Dream. Sir, please pull yourself up by your bootstraps and quit complaining about the liberal press.
OMG....this Cruz moron is Cruzin for a Bruisin'. So he wanted all 45 GOP members to stand together and let the USA credit rating take another hit and for interest rates to go way up then for all of us and the economy to tank again. This guy went to Harvard ?????? Someone PLEASE flog this guy....... he speaks for about 9% of Americans and hopefully he will be out of a job and politics soon. He is the problem, not the solution to any.
His state is 63% Democrats...so he DOES NOT even speak for his own state. He speaks for himself and his own aspirations. He is a nut job....... If it wasn't for Gerrymandering Texas would already be Blue. As old white folks die off in Texas and the Latino population grows, the state turns more Blue each day. Every major city in Texas is run by Democrats........except Ft Worth.
Wow, this guy is a delusional, megalomaniac, no different than Joe McCarthy. Two peas in the same pod.
We hate Congress because of you and your minions in the HOUSE.
No one likes you either Cruz
I'm not from Texas. But I do like a person that stands for what they believe. There is way too many back room deals and the same people making the deals go back home and tell the people what they want them to hear.
That is why I follow our congressman close and see first hand what they vote for and against. So when they try there stump speech we can call them on there voting record.
Are you all STILL bantering about whatever this idiot says? Really?
By 2024, TEXAS is projected to be BLUE. SAME for Georgia. Believe it or not: Tennessee may be ONE of the Largest of the Red States remaining at that time. In other words, the fortunes of the Republican party are diminishing even FASTER than the 2043 date set for Whites becoming a Minority in the USA. Republicans like Ted Cruz....are making ALL OF THAT...happen.
He's just mad that he tried filibuster and McConnell blocked it. To add insult to injury, Coryn voted with McConnell. They're really tired of this.
So sick of people kicking this guy in the teeth when he seems to be outspoken on accountability.
Wake up America – we need this kind of transparency. Whether or not you 'like' (which is a personality vote...) he's willing to say accountability, accountability, accountability. Is he perfect – no. Does he vocalize the need for ethics in congress – something totally absent? Absolutely.
As a Reagan Democrat I see Cruz as a tool at the disposal for the Dem Party...However, he is right re: the two faced management of politics.. this transcends to the Dems as well (Indy too – Lieberman).
These comfy manufactured millionaires riding on my back (taxpayer) – Photo Oping for points but crushing us on everything else sickens me.
"You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called 'scientific theory' that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they've defined it, can never be disproved,” he said. Maybe if you referred to climate change as a religion, people would believe it for the exact same reasons.
All Cruz needs to do is look in the mirror to see all that's wrong with congress.It's not a coincident that he is part of the lowest rated congress in US history.
Ted Cruz...ensuring democrats everywhere will win elections.
HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts eat each other as they walk the plank toward another November. They are desperate in February.
People don't like congress, mainly because of Ted Cruz and people like him. He's nothing more than the next actor to fire up the base. First Huckabee, then Palin, then Bachmann and now him.