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
The martyr Ted may get his Cruzifiction yet...
What this story is really about is how the Filibuster has become the new normal. That is the problem, not Ted Cruz or anything he said.
The spending problem has been going on for over 30 years. That's why the debt is so massive. Now we're spending almost half of our taxes paying the interest on the debt. If we Raised taxes on the billion-dollar corporations that are currently under-taxed, maybe we could pay off the debt. If we ever pay off the debt, we can lower taxes MASSIVELY.
Cut Spending AND Raise Taxes For The Good Of The Country!
Cruz wasn't born in the U.S. He's not an American. He needs to go back to where he came from. What the hell is wrong with you Texans voting in such a self centered, racist, Canadian?
This guy is a joke! He doesn't have a clue about the Senate or the US finances. Cap the debt and the United States would be toast in a month. His only agenda is Ted Cruz and his 15 minutes of fame (or infamy).
Some day the leaders of this great nation will be focused on its citizens. That day has not been seen in the past few decades. That day is not today. I fear that day will not be tomorrow. Special interest, ego centric senators and congressmen, lobbyist and well meaning but ignorant religious groups have absconded with the virtues of our history and the strengths of our forefathers. The politics of "me" must stop. It is time that the people find someone with whom they can feel confident. Alas, that person does not exist and that day is not today.
I"m just gonna pull up a chair to watch either the unraveling of the GOP as we know it or the implosion of the Tea Party...because these two heads are WAY too big for one hat...and somethings gonna give.
And Cruz takes the Oscar for Egomaniac of the Year. Well played.
"And if 45 Republicans had stood together, nobody gets thrown under the bus."
Oh . . . if only we had a bus to throw you under!
Congress has the lowest approval rating in history because the GOP has done nothing for the good of our country and has opposed every bill that would benefit working people or anyone else who is not extremely rich.
Democrats lose support because they are not aggressive enough in opposing the republican's seditious actions.
Ted Cruz should have his head examined. No one ever refused to raise the debt ceiling as a routine measure when Bush 43 was president. Threatening not to authorize money to pay bills that come due by not raising the debt ceiling can have negative effects on the economy.
Ted Cruz likes to see himself on camera and see his words in print. He's made it clear that he really doesn't care about the office he holds or the citizens he represents. He just likes to stir the pot for his own entertainment and for publicity. Never mind that it hurts his party, hurts what he says is his cause and contributes nothing to his country.....I'm just sorry he gets so much press.
This from the guy who voted against his own filibuster back in September? He's right, he sure does belong in the 2016 GOP Clown Car.
Yeah, you kind of HAVE to wonder what's going on with the Repubs.
They want to be the party of "fiscal responsibility" but then set up a vote to SUSPEND the debt ceiling (not just "increase" it).
That means our spendthrift government has NO LIMIT on what it can spend ... until 2015.
Ted Cruz is dangerous. He is out for himself and some agenda that he is not making clear. He seems to be trying to blow up his own party in order to set that agenda. People need to watch him closely and unless the Republican leadership does something to smack Cruz down (and soon) he is going to be successful.
The Republicans seem to be unable or unwilling to stop Cruz and that is bad for them and the rest of the US.
Love that guy – he single handedly does more damage to the republican party than any democrat ever could.
Every time he opens hos mouth I cheer – thanks Texas!
Someone make this man go away!! So his bright idea is to weaken the image of the US in the worlds eyes?? "Cruz insisted his attempt to block the bill was not aimed at politically damaging his fellow Republicans" Well, Mr.Cruz it may not seem that way–but that is exactly how it turned out. You do not have 45 Republicans who want to stand by you so give up these anti-American ideas. I think Michelle Bachman will stand by anything you say, if you really want that kind of support.
Sick of hearing John Coryn adds all day long saying how he stands up against Obama, when we know he caves in too.
Please get this person out of the news. He is comic fodder at best. If this is the best the Republican Party can put forth then we are insured another Democratic victory in 2016. The USA definitely doesn't need this guy leading us anywhere.
The GOP implosion continues. In one respect, Cruz is a benefit for the Democrats. The more he becomes the public face of the Tea Party, the more polarizing the movement becomes, and sooner or later somebody is going to step up to represent what's left of the "moderate GOP." As the primary season approaches, the battle lines will harden, with the Tea Party demanding purity and the moderates advocating electability. Both sides within the GOP will lose.
He wishes for anarchy. He's the guy who's willing to charge up his parents credit card, refuse to pay, knowing that his parents will bail him out.
Cruz inflicts pain on his constituents and Americans, all for his own glory. A majority in the US does not want the government to default. The debt-ceiling vote has nothing to do with spending, and everything to do with showmanship–Ted Cruz's.
Why is this Canadian so obsessed with shutting down our country? The debt ceiling extension was understood with the budget that passed.
You hear that everyone? The GOP wants to stop spending and creating debt! The GOP created this mess but they are sorry. They want to help everyone now. Had a change of heart since four months ago.
Congress has a 13 percent approval rating because of people like Ted Cruz. Go home and read "Green Senators and Scams" to your kid, Dude.
No Mr. Cruz. I am upset with you and some of your brethren for using tactics that led to the downgrade of the credit of the US, and has prevented businesses from making long term plans that involve growth and new hiring. I am upset with you because you have taken a routine procedure – raising the debt ceiling – and used to try to gain leverage with a president for spending that you (Congress) authorize.
I am not saying at all that there is no blame on the other side of the aisle, however Speaker Boehner made it clear to his constituents that he would not allow us to enter another round of political deadlock while his constituents suffered. To say for a second that you were just trying to push transparency is an attempt to assign a noble motive to your irresponsible actions.
Negotiate over the hundreds of other things that you should be working on. The full faith and credit of the government of the United States is not on the table.