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. stewart

    Ted Cruz needs to back under the rock he came from. He would not vote to raise the debt ceiling to pay for what the congress has already spent. It is a crying shame he failed a basic civics class. If he does not like what is being spent then work to change it. but once spent PAY the bill. If he truly cared he would vote to cut the pay and perks the congress gets and set an example. but like all the others is all about whats in it form them and the hell with the rest of us.

    February 20, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  2. Morley

    Canadians should be glad that Ted Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship. Canada has enough with their own right wing polticians embarrassing their country...the last thing they need is this guy embarrassing them too!

    February 20, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    "Principles" is what has led to the lousy apporval ratings, Senator. Voters want results. They want to see the country moving again, not stuck in neutral because a few people think their "principles" are more important. You are the problem, not your leadership.

    February 20, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  4. Theodore

    Please Ted, please run for president. We (normal people) need someone to allow the democrats to easily win the election and send a message to the GOP that extremists aren't wanted.

    February 20, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  5. so much for honesty

    If he is so unhappy with the GOP why don't he leave and stop sucking on their honey wagon every election and take the rest of the Tea Party with him?

    February 20, 2014 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  6. Bryan

    Imagine a world where every senator was like Cruz and stood for what they belived in?

    Left Right whatever ...everyone doing their job without playing tricks

    February 20, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  7. Cruze Control

    Dangerous, extreme corner of the right wing boxer demanding everyone listen to him and play by his rules. Consider the possiblity you are alone because you are wrong on so many subjects. You're not representing 26 million Texans. You're representing your boundless ego and inability to work with others. Bye-bye Ted.

    February 20, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    " Republicans will get “clobbered in the polls” for not standing up for principle. "

    What principle, Cruz? The principle of approving spending (The Budget), but not willing to pay the bills when they come due? Just where does that pass for principle?

    Texans, do you stand behind his idea of principle?

    February 20, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Meyer C. Dhoates

    Ted Cruz needs to go back to Canada and take Justin Beaver with him.

    February 20, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Tim

    Thank goodness for Mr. Cruz. Keep fighting for honesty and responsible government. America needs it.

    February 20, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. Person

    Ah yes, once again calling the center-left "far left." This confirms what we already knew, that Cruz works in a Texas echo chamber where it sounds like his constituents are still nationally powerful. As the GOP backs away from far-right minority positions and returns to collaborative governance, it's true that a few far right pockets might pound their local representatives who go along. But our nation as a whole is through with these destructive wing-nuts and Cruz is, in the long run, only damaging the far-right's paper thin credibility.

    February 20, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. Michael

    What......a.......moron. No wonder the Republican party is often referred to as "the party of stupid."

    February 20, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Tom

    Ted Cruz is wrong on every issue.

    February 20, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. IvoteDemocrat

    It will be a great day when his supporters wake up to the fact this know-nothing doesn't care about them. I'm surprised the "birthers" aren't going after him like they did the BLACK president.

    February 20, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. ghostwriter

    Gotta love this guy.....I think republicans are starting to realize that simply sitting back and forcing every piece of legislation you don't agree with (or aren't allowed to agree with publicy) to require 60 votes is ridiculous. Especially when your own ideas haven't garnered much support.

    February 20, 2014 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. Bob Ramos

    Cruz cannot ever be the GOP Presidential nominee. Why? Per Sheriff Joe and Trump and others, Cruz was born in Canada and thus ineligible and Cruz has so alienated the party elders that they would work againist his nomination.

    February 20, 2014 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. richard in texas

    Please, as a independent Texan, let me apologize for this megalomaniac. and remember Texas isn't the highest ranking in education so it reflects on how such a person can get elected and be tolerated. Pathetic..... up there with Terrible Ted Nugent.

    February 20, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  18. blue max

    Ted Cruz can't wait to see America default on its bonds and go bankrupt. We're being attacked by a Canadian! The tea sippers said Obama was not qualified to be president because he was born in Kenya, yet they want Cruz to run even thought he was born in Canada. strange logic...

    February 20, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  19. John

    Not all Republicans are idiots, just the ones who make up the news. I propose a litmus test, a single issue for winnowing the chaff out of that party: any Republican who would rather destroy the country that accept a compromise needs to be deleted from Congress. The way you can tell is if they voted for that government closure last October or whenever it was. That cost more to the economy than a year's worth of extended unemployment would have, and which of itself led to further losses to the economy; these jerks standing on their principles damage all of us, and all of OUR principles..

    February 20, 2014 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. hahdhdga

    After freeing the vehicle that has been stuck in the mud since 1776 Mr Cruz wants us to back up to the mud puddle because it's a safe place. Feel free to leave America and start your own personal nation of haters Mr Cruz. America is NOT yours and you represent the smaller number, thank goodness. You and Ted Nugent should get a room together in the funny farm.

    February 20, 2014 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. tom l

    Not sure how anyone could disagree with him on this but I'm sure the liberals on here will find a way purely based on WHO has delivered this message.

    February 20, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. grayfox

    I love Ted Cruz. He's almost as funny to listen to as Michele Bachmann. Good for comic relief.

    February 20, 2014 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. Constitchency

    I am a conservative, but I'm not a Republican. These jokers in Washington are out of touch with the voters and are out of control. The GOP staged the government shutdown and are only stalling progress on Capitol Hill. We need a new party.

    February 20, 2014 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  24. sfarris

    So, if Ted Cruz says all 45 Republicans should have said no, then all should agree? Wow, that is a pretty neat trick er..... scam er...... lie er...... gosh I am having trouble giving it a name that doesn't sound like it is just plain stupid, deceitful, etc. Hmmm...... I shall have to think a little further....

    February 20, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  25. JLS639

    I live in Texas and am ashamed of Ted Cruz. It is sad we lost Hutchinson who could work with people who thought differently than her.

    February 20, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32