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
Senator Cruz is rallying the common Americans to push back at the manipulation and chicanery that our politicians foist upon us. I think he's spot on several issues. He's gaining traction and I, for one, appreciate his continued efforts to fight back against the establishment!!
Cruz is God's special gift to the Democratic party ... Thank you, Jesus!
is this like when moe smashes larry and curly's heads together?
If his comments are genuine – instead of a political persona – I agree and support his perspective. The GOP "establishment,"' such as Boehner, McConnell and McCain, are clearly significant part of the problem for both sides of the aisle. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz is intellectually honest and consistent with greater interest in mind, making him a statesman versus the other professional GOPs in DC who are...disingenuous, at best.
why Congress has a 13% approval rating is because of what Cruz is advocating. Voting along party lines regardless of the effect on the nation as a whole. Circumstances dictate what Congress should be doing not the party line. Reagan, the face that the GOP would like to see on Mt. Rushmore, raised taxes several times during his tenure in office. He also told his constituents that he wouldn't but he did. Why? Because it had to be done to accomplish his goal of breaking up the Soviet Union. President Bush (the first one) lost re-election because he told his constituents that he wouldn't raise their taxes. What happened to him? He lost re-election because he did what was needed for the country and raised taxes. Senator Cruz has shown, time and time again, that he would prefer to see the federal government shutdown regardless of its effect on the country. If he really wants to keep the debt ceiling from being raised, make the federal government do what millions of families struggling to make ends meet. Spend less and earn as much additional money as you can. Balance the budget, and keep from borrowing more money by spending less and earning more money. Sorry if you told your constituents one thing and found that taxes needed to be raised to accomplish your goal of keeping the U.S. debt in check. Or is getting re-elected more important to you that doing what is necessary?
That's it, Cruz, crank up the crazy.
Poor Cruz can't get along with anyone including those in his own party.
He's inneffectual at common sense and good judgement.
Does anyone other than some in Texas actually care what Ted Cruz says? His grandstanding is forcing the GOP to pass legislation they don't truly believe in. This guy needs to be voted out, he's a waste of my tax dollars.
If Cruz is GOP candidate in 2016, it will assure a Democratic White House.
Cruz = Koch Brothers = Obstructionist = good for nothing... period.
If he didn't orchestrate the government shut down in the first place then the republican leadership wouldn't act the way they did.
I wonder if he actually believes the things he says? The irony of his policy positions is that he will damage the Republican Party for years to come with the national electorate. I think it is bad humor when Congress complains about spending when they are the branch of government responsible for setting spending levels. Rage on Teddy, rage on ...
It's your dad Ted Cruz, the ole timey base of the GOP will not be led by a closet Castro lover and his confused son. They are done with you, you will not be reelected.
This man is out to destroy the Republican party and remake it in his own image of McCarthyism, version 2.0. GOP has allowed people like him to infiltrate the party. They are paying the price at the polls.
Since Ted Cruz was NOT born in the U.S. can someone tell me why they keep talking about him running for President?
Doesn't anyone in DC and his own party have the courage to say – YOU CANNOT BE PRESIDENT!
I can't imagine this self centered idiot running anything except his mouth!
"Cruz suggested a double standard in news coverage, insisting that incendiary comments from the left don't get the same attention."
Can anyone point out to me the last time someone officially affiliated with the Democratic party called the President of the United States of America, and commander in chief of our armed forces a "subhuman mongrel" Republicans have become so viciously anti-American it's just embarrassing. People who can't remain civil, and maintain a certain level of respect for the Commander in Chief have no place in this country.
Democrats should thank Ted, the Canadian wacko, Cruz everyday. This nut job will guarantee a Democratic majority in the Senate.
Cruz – You don't work for Washington (agreed), you work for your constituents (agreed) – but you do have to work with your fellow members. You are just one vote out of many congressman and senators, and guess what you don't get to rule with that one vote. You get to compromise. I also promise you that many of your constituents aren't exactly happy with your decisions – which are based on your idealogue.
Good job Cruz, now your likeability will definitly be even lower, but the difference now is that youw own party will hate you. You are a,ready considered as a crazy person, now you will end up having to check into a loony bin.
Wish I could throw a temper tantrum and not pay my bills and have thousands of people send me money for doing it.
I think it is important to point out that Cruz does not represent 26 million Texans. At the time he was elected he can claim to represent the people who voted for him on that day, where that number stands today is anybody's guess. Also, to listen to him offer opinions on foreign policy is about as illuminating as listening to Newt Gingrich's pronouncements on lunar colonies.
I love Ted Cruz. He has done more to turn people off to the Tea Party/Republicans than anyone else I know of. He has even out done Sarah Palin. And, that is saying something.
Teddy may think he represents all Texans but in truth he represents himself , his huge ego and his rapacious appetite for attention. However is it surprising we have a clueless group of texans supporting him.. no, after all we have very poor educational standards in this State...
Ted...Keep the comedy coming. I cannot understand how you can justify your existence in a positive way.