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. Windu

    So, what is the end-game, exactly, for Mr Cruz ?
    He can’t win a GOP presidential primary not because of his extremist views, but because he has alienated the GOP money brokers and Wall Street donors he would otherwise need. He has to know that he will hold no higher public office than he currently has, so what is his deal ? Is he merely aiming for a post-senate high-level position at one of those ultra-conservative groups a la Jim Demint ? If so, he certainly had them at hello.

    February 20, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  2. ShawnDH

    THE CRAZY must age people quite a bit. I was stunned that Calgary Carnival Cruz is just 43 years old. Yikes!

    February 20, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Sid Prejean

    Based upon his performance thus far, Ted Cruz doesn't care about the people of Texas.
    Ted Cruz doesn't care about the US Congress.
    Ted Cruz doesn't care about the Republican Party.
    Ted Cruz doesn't much care about the people of the United States.
    Ted Cruz cares about Ted Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. darth cheney

    Sometimes I wonder if Ted Cruz isn't some sort of Congressional Curveball, a liberal democrat acting as a mole. Thank you, Ted, for so greatly supporting Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign for President.

    February 20, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. A dose of reality

    "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.

    Yep, and santa claus and Jeebuz are real and can NEVER be disproved(sarcasm fully on)

    February 20, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. hector

    good for cruz

    February 20, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. mvrunner

    Mr. Cruz, the reason Congress has such an abysmal approval rating is because of people like you, people whose goal is to pass as little legislation as possible, no matter how many citizens suffer as a result. Go away.

    February 20, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. GreyMan

    I can't say that I'm a fan of Sen. Cruz but I have to admit there's a part of me that admires his moxy. He is forcing everyone to stand up and be counted. The GOP may take a short-term hit for this but I'm afraid this approach will help the GOP grow. Now what we need is someone on the other side of the isle to make the Dems stand up and be counted.

    February 20, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. Wall Wolf

    Only a state like Texas could produce a creatures like Ted Cruz and Louie Gohmert. Who votes for these people? Cruz and his father are on a mission to make a mockery out of all of us. Their only goal is to create chaos. Louie Gohmert is so dumb, It's amazing he can breathe.

    February 20, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. joe

    You are correct. People would love to see more backbone in congress – but that's assuming the backbone is standing up for something intelligent.
    Stubbornly supporting a terrible idea (letting the government default on debts it has already accrued) is not going to win you points with anyone outside of the core demographic of your party.

    February 20, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  11. michael segal

    Delusional, self-serving politician. A true hypocrite and manipulator.

    February 20, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. bcares

    I'm sorry . . . Ted Cruz reads as sincere, but his lack of willingness to compromise is really what helps garner the approval rating of congress of around 13%. Obviously each of us has our own point of view on everything from health care to foreign policy to the economy, but if we're not willing to work together, to meet somewhere in the middle, nothing will ever get accomplished. The willingness to stand by and watch as our country grinds to a halt, or continues to recede in world opinion and importance, is accomplishing nothing for "us" and everything for one.

    February 20, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. quieteye

    There is no threat from climate change
    I said so
    Just carry on.

    February 20, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. DMR

    The more Ted Cruz opens his mouth the more he assures a considerable sweep of the mid-term elections by the Democrats. He is not speaking for anyone but himself, and it is increasingly evident he is just grandstanding for his own personal benefit. The GOP\TP has pretty much brought this on themselves. The more they embraced the extremist Tea Partiers the wider the disconnect with the mainstream GOP.

    February 20, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    Oh, how disappointing this man has become. No doubt low information voters fall for this BS he promotes, but I suspect most Americans see through his "it is all about me ... ME ... I tell you" self aggrandizing soap opera theatrics.

    As it is, it is all he's got: self aggrandizing. And, yes. This type of politician will always loose general elections. He knows it. I know it. The media knows it.

    But, hey. Carry on Ted Cruz. There can never be enough clowns running the circus.

    February 20, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  16. Michael Smith

    Cruz is detached from reality for the purpose of political grandstanding! The debt ceiling is not the place. Congress has already authorized the expenditures elsewhere, the debt ceiling is the place where payment take place. If he is truly interested in reining in the debt, he should embrace spending and revenue reforms, both of which are sorely needed. He did not do that grandstanding against the farm bill that cut benefits on the highly dispersed low income while preserving substantial benefits for corporate farmers. He is part of a cadre that refuses to examine the tax laws that provide the revenue: to wit, corporate dividends eligible for long-term capital gains and tax exclusion even though the corporation pays no US income tax. Cruz is a co-conspirator is rape of the US system.

    February 20, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Tampa Tim

    The word on the street is that Ted was born in Canada so his parents could take advantage of that socialized medicine in Canada. Any truth that the delivery was free?

    February 20, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. Don Wilson

    Ted Cruz' gigantic ego may be sowing the seeds of his own political "self-destruction."

    February 20, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. newz4i

    And I'll tell you my (Sen. Cruz) 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.” Basically Sen. Cruz means this: he wants to see all 45 Republicans stand together and do what he wants them to do.

    February 20, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  20. beersummit

    An honest politician, refreshing change.

    February 20, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. sammy750

    Many people and voters are finally realizing what they have for leaders in TX. they finally have got it that TX is the most Radical and Extremist of this nation. They will cast votes for those candidates that have a honest agenda and not just lots of radical words. Vote smart and defeat the Radical Republicans.

    February 20, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Sherri

    Though I am not a Cruz fan of himself or his politics, I do admire that he stands up for his convictions, EXCEPT ...climate change. Scientific data does support it, and politicians who continue to deny its existence are backed by the very industries that have contributed to its acceleration.

    February 20, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  23. JohnRJohnson

    OK. So Cruz is not a Republican. He's obviously not a Democrat. He might be a Libertarian, but there's no way to really know because he has never articulated his position on any policy that he supports. All Ted Cruz is is a Contrarian. He is defined only by what he is against, and that is basically everything.

    February 20, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Thom

    Ted Cruz is a fraud, a fake, a flash in the pan and a menace to society.

    February 20, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Walloe

    So did any Republican ever offer to look at the budget and cut some fat? There is a BUNCH that benefits them. If you don't want the debt ceiling to rise, then you have to lower the spending. What are the items they threaten us with first? Social Security and Medicare. Those are not the only things that make up the budget. Do we need all those studies done that don't make sense? Do we need to give away money to companies that really don't need it? There are places to look and be eliminated, but Congress, as a whole, is too lazy and greedy to take on that task. The best way to do it is to say we need to pay SS, Medicare, and maintain the security of our country. Start adding in after that with an eye on determining why it costs so much, and determining if we really need it.

    February 20, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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