February 20th, 2014
01:34 AM ET
4 years ago

Ted Cruz assails fellow Republican senators for 'trickery'

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.

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

Filed under: Congress • Ted Cruz
soundoff (799 Responses)
  1. haybob

    I'm a lifelong Republican who has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since Gerald Ford, although it was admittedly hard in 2004. That said, I don't think that I could suppress my gag reflex long enough to vote for Ted Cruz. He seems to be a narcissist who doesn't care how much damage he does to other Republicans so long as he personally benefits.

    February 20, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. Charles

    If you want to cut the spending, start with the military. Do we really need to out spend every other country put together, in war preparation. We can completely destroy to earth with the weapons that we all ready have. And that isn't enough for the Right as they make sure that we export out death machines.

    February 20, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. bluebyyou666

    "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.
    There may be more of the Earth to it, than man and woman.

    February 20, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. Liberal Iowan

    Republicans doing something sneaky and misleading. Say it ain't so.

    February 20, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. tv22

    God forbid that these Senators vote how they want to vote versus how Ted Cruz wants them to vote.

    Better to be silent and be thought a fool.....

    February 20, 2014 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. rs

    I agree with Mr. Cruz that the GOP (but both parties are guilty at times) have made runs on "show" votes. The problem here is that the GOP still largely voted against the interest of the United States by voting against another debt ceiling increase. As has endlessly been demonstrated, such a negative vote does nothing to reign in spending (the House must do that with the budget), rather, all failing to raise the debt ceiling does is shut down the federal government – an act that last October cost the tax payer $24 billion, and put nearly a million federal workers out of work. Certainly that runs counter to the notion the government must cap spending and budget responsibly.
    Mr. Cruz is right at least on his premise- the GOP is being too clever by half – it plays games instead of pursuing good policy- and while wrong on this vote, he is right- politicians need to be more honest and transparent on their motives and actions.

    February 20, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. keyser

    ho boy.....how to tell someone delusional that they are crazy.

    February 20, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Epiphany

    Ted Cruz forced Republicans to vote due to his attempt to filibuster and now he's blaming it all on real Republicans? Ted Cruz is already a downfall of once powerful Republican Party. He will be our reminder to not vote for a Republican President for a very long time.

    February 20, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. johninpa

    No, Mr. Cruz, Congress does not have a 13% approval rating because of a "show" vote. The rating is so low because Congress gets nothing done, has allowed the systematic gutting of the middle class, is beholden to the the large bribes of corporate America (you know, the ones that are equal to citizens), and generally serves it own purposes rather than the needs of the nation. If you could get your head out of the sand (or somewhere else), you might be able to see this.

    February 20, 2014 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. Osceola Steve

    A few more "leaders" like this in the Senate, the U.S. will soon be Kiev, Ukraine. This man needs to be stopped !

    February 20, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  11. Bob

    Scary guy.

    February 20, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Hey Einstein, trickery is the only reason you have your job. If the useful idiots in your constituency wise up to the fact that your party and its platform is only concerned about the richest 1% of Americans there would be no Republican party. You had better hope the smoke screens and diversions about a foreign president and how the Democrats are taking the soul of the country keep on working for the useful idiots that elected you.

    February 20, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. Independent_me

    Why is this Canadian son of Castro even in our government???
    It is so obvious that he has an agenda to destroy our government...yet the same people who accuse Obama of not being an American embrace this mole...
    Does the Tea Party have a "hidden" agenda to destroy America? Perhaps their strategy is to accuse Obama of what they are actually doing so as to deflect attention from themselves?

    February 20, 2014 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  14. Hogarth

    Cruz is a genius at framing an argument. He talks about Senator's "trickery", rather than talking about what a disaster for the nation not raising the debt ceiling would have on the nation.

    February 20, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. David

    But....Democrats self distruct. Since 2007, they have had control of our government and we have failed since. They promise to raise takes and go against what the majority wants. Obamacare is so illwritten that in one year, we may see an uprising that we havnt seen since the Civil war when people realize that todays democrats have turned Socialist thru the years.

    February 20, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. maggie

    Congress has a low approval rating because of Ted Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. DH

    What an idiot, and he wonders why we as republicans keep losing the national elections

    February 20, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  18. maggie

    “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.”

    And what would the great Ted Cruz propose? The military intervention that this country, save those who are still living in the 60's, don't want? It is clear that to elect Ted Cruz would mean more of the same republican behavior - why bother listening to the people?

    February 20, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. Hogarth

    Raising the debt ceiling has no effect on the national debt. Cruz and his ilk are creating a complete straw man. Raising the debt ceiling only allows the US to pay for the debt it has already incurred; it does not allow the government to create new debt. But that's not what Cruz wants you to know. He just wants you to be afraid of the word "debt" so much that your fear drives you to vote for his side. He is living proof that Republicans tend to depend on this sort of chicanery.

    February 20, 2014 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. ru serious

    GOP has to rid themselves of these TP idiots asap or we will be stuck with Dimwit Democrats for the next 10 years.

    February 20, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. Namelinda

    Ted Cruz does not work for the 26 million people in Texas. Minorities in Texas and those with common sense do not like his political agenda nor his misguided principles. With so many people in Texas without healthcare it is amazing that he oppose the affordable care act. People in Texas continue to go to hospitals through the emergency room. Most do not go at all and die sooner than later. I live in Texas and we continue to pay our tax dollars for those who seek medical care without insurance. Just look at the amount of illegal immigrants in Texas.

    February 20, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. TM

    It was bad enough when The Grand Old Tea Party decided to put their party ahead of their country. They earned the title "Party of NO", and the lowest approval rating in history, for that. Now Cruz has decided to put himself above both his party and the country he was elected to serve. It is clear that he likes the sound of his own voice way too much. His green eggs and spam fake filibuster before the last shutdown was bad enough, but it is now clear that his overblown ego will continue to write checks nobody is willing to cash.

    February 20, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. ricardo1968

    This man is mentally ill and a danger to the country in office. We need our leaders to have some relationship to reality.

    February 20, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  24. empathy4us

    I hope Cruz keeps talking as he's the best thing the Democratic Party has had in many, many years.

    February 20, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  25. John

    And when the economy goes into complete and unadulterated depression, which it is NOT in now, because the debt ceiling did not get raised, is Cruz ready to take the blame or will he dump it? Since dumping blame isn't trickery and comes natural to any and every politician regardless of party.

    February 20, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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