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
I agree with Cruz on most issues but his tactics are abominable and destructive of his own cause. He will either live and learn or crash and die.
This guy always has that sneaky, snarky smirk on this face like he is up to no good. Whether he intends to or not, he comes off as mean-spirited and only out for himself, the last part making him a politician in the same vein for which decries other politicians.
Ted Cruz & the GOP refuse to condemn Ted Nugent for calling our president (or anyone) a "Subhuman Mongrel"
A "Mongrel" is a mutt- a dog with parents of different breeds. Obama has parents of different races. This could not be a more clearly racist statement.
Apparently, Republicans can't win an election in rural districts without turning their backs on the racist vote.
After all they are elected to support the needs of the GOP, not the American people. They do not represent their district, just their party. Republicans do not even consider anything but the political games that have made them the poster child for everything wrong with politics today.
Good job Cruz.
The GOP simply has no idea of what to do........to stop this dictator. I suspect that will simply make things even worse.......over the next 3 yrs, as Obama gets totally out of control, as the dictator in America.
Ted Cruz is the Democratic party dream! Keep talking Ted! Loving every minute!
Republicans made a deal with the tea-baggers so that they could block everything that Obama tried to do. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. The tea-baggers do not want to be a part of the republican party...they want to take over the republican party. The traditional republicans are being forced out. Ted Cruz is positioning himself to be the leader of the party after the party blows up. This election is the last chance for the traditional republicans to save their party from the crazies.
Ted Cruz wants to destroy the USA
Ted cruz the greatest democrat ever
I am sure that the GOP wishes they could smash Cruz's head against a concrete wall. I can't figure out the voters in his district, are they on drugs constantly, to be able to elect this Extremist Domestic Taliban Terrorist to the Senate or any other job. Dogcatcher may be a job right up his alley. I have never in my sixty years seen a Senator be so AGAINST the American people and Country. I think deportation should be one of our options to rid our country of him...
The good news is that the tea party is destroying the corrupt, incompetent, GOP from within.
The bad news is they may destroy the country first.
Where the heck did this guy come from. I am sure that he is a tea partyer. He needs to disapear. The Gop is already in so much trouble right now. They do not need a TED CRUZ. What a looser.
Go Back to Canada, Ted!
Cruz continues to demonstrate the arrogance and stupidity that will turn off many independent voters in November. He is so full of his own agenda of opposing everything President Obama does that he can't possibly attract thoughtful voters who actually listen to both sides of an argument and then choose the one that includes all Americans in the outcome, not just a few filled with hatred toward the President. Come on, Democrats, vote in November and get rid of these tea party people for the good of our country!
"we need to be honest with our constituents"
This is the problem. Until we have campaign finance transparency out government we continue to work for big business.
This man will singlehandedly cause the Republicans to lose in 2014, and probably two years from now also.
Now despite whatever you might think, Canadian Cruz is NOT a sleeper agent placed by the Democratic party into the Republican party. And he's NOT a Cuban citzen by virtue of his father's nationality working for the Castro regime to destroy America either. Just wanted to clear that up.
Kerry is a whack job, nothing more than a mouthpiece puppet. He plans to run again but I don't see the support he needs at all, maybe thinking veep on Hilary's ticket.
He's got a lot of nerve to complain about procedural tricks for political purposes. He's the king of the genre.
Don't kid yourself Ted.
You were elected with 4.5 MM votes (out of 7.9 MM cast, 13.4 MM registered, and 18.7 MM of voting age) after spending $7.6 MM (vs your opponents' combined $0.1MM), so in reality, you are working for roughly 24% of Texas of voting age, and 17% of all Texans. And who are these 17%? The Tea Party, and you answer to them, no matter how loony the position. But when are you actually going to work as a serious legislator?
Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
This moron is a poster child for demagogic rhetoric. His mindless approach is to say it is OK to wreck the US credit for some nonsensical principal. If Cruz spent more time in constructive legislative activities, he would really be representing Texans. I cannot believe that anyone with ½ a brain (or more) would vote for this clown.
I find it amusing when the GOP eats their own.
When your job is to work for the good of the COUNTRY (and your immediate constituents) but your ideology goes against that, you are, what we call in thinking America WRONG. So standing up for "principals" that go against the good of the Country by "standing up for your 'principals' is STILL WRONG.
Cruz will make himself (and the TEA Party "Patriots" – and any of their civilian supporters – you know, voters)) a joke in the next Presidential election cycle.
"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.”"
Nugent uses a Nazi term, sending a message to all his neo Nazi fans, and Cruz thinks it's ok, because Nugent believes in the 2nd amendment? So would he stand up for a serial killer if he believed in the 2nd amendment? My mother always said you will be judged by the people you hang out with, so Cruz, you must be a neo Nazi, domestic abuser, misogynist, who likes really young girls too. You're too young to have avoided the draft by peeing your pants. What a wonderful role model you have.