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. Buffalo

    This guy is the poster child for whats wrong in American politics. Texas and the rest of us need to pray that he goes away in one term. Folks , we need problem solvers not trouble makers.

    February 20, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Terry

    What Cruz does not seem to understand it this is not about winning the battle (and this single debt limit vote was the battle), its about winning the war (and taking back control of the Senate). Add that to the fact that polls have consistently shown that the people do not want another debt battle that has the potential to derail the economy and negatively impact our credit rating. So Cruz, wake up and smell the roses.

    February 20, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Erik

    Texans, like many Southerners, have the shortest life span in the country. And Ted Cruz, by going after Obamacare, is apparently fine with that state of affairs.

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. texasnotea

    The tea party stands for nothing and is against everything.

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Rush

    As usual, Cruz is on an island by himself and continues to alienate himself. What a dud!

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Never With Cruz

    Mr. Cruz is cruising for a large defeat for both him and his fellow Republicans in the upcoming elections due to what he stands for. He has shown his true colors that he would oppose ALL that Democrats stand for. Therefore, that means he opposes your right to cleaner air, water, a good education, unemployment benefits to help you look for work when you're down and out, the right to keep that which you have earned such as Social Security payments and Medicare, that you worked so hard for all of your life investing your part with each paycheck you received, just like a life insurance policy for your golden years, yet Cruz would severely Cut That Back for those who are not independently wealthy like he is and who don't need what the rest of us do. That is the *Cruz Republican*. Thanks but no thanks. I'll stick with the Democrats who have the good sense to know What Truly Belongs To The People Belongs To The People!

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. eugenedanker

    This moron needs to be broadcast on every media outlet every day so people can see how profoundly ignorant he is.

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. penguin

    The Republicans are to blame for allowing the Tea Party to run as Republicans. If the Tea Party is as principaled as it claims to be, it would form a seperate party

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. yea

    The split in the party prevents any movement, or any negotiations that would help the country instead of the respective wing of the party. The GOP has stepped back from governing into a meager attempt at management, which isn't working either.

    February 20, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Randyk

    He's right about how sleazy the GOP were on the debt ceiling. We want it to pass but let's pass it with as few votes as possible so we can say we were against passing it. It's inherently dishonest. But then he goes on to say a dozen either completely dishonest or blatantly ignorant things himself.

    "Cruz said that the data on global warming doesn’t support environmental activists’ argument."

    It seems that facts just don't matter AT ALL for the current Republican party. It doesn't matter if it's an objective reality, they'll just say, "No it's not." And the Fair and Balanced press will fail to point out that they're claiming up is down, black is white. Instead they'll report on another GOP Rising Star.

    February 20, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. mercfan

    The trickery (or a better word for it is charade), where the GOP allows the Debt ceiling bill to go to the floor for a vote, and then vote against the bill so they can say they were against raising the debt ceiling is deceitful. If they were really against it, keep it from going to a vote. All politicians are slime – you can’t trust any of them.

    February 20, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. JJ

    What "principle," Tonto? That you think it's ok to be a Cuban-Canadian extortionist? Imbecile.

    February 20, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. Alex

    The reason congress has a 13% apporval rating is that they voted over 40 times to repeal Obamacare, when there was no hope of it becoming law. Talk about "show votes". Both republicans and democrats were elected to govern, and governing means reaching compromises. The republicans have gone to congress and decided that purity tests are the way to act, that refusal to compromise, refusal to attack the debt with a grand bargain, because it will require compromise is that the way to act. That is not governing, that is acting like a child throwing a tantrum. Just sitting around and obstructing and saying No to everything is not governing. Putting political theater up to vote is not governing. Threatening harm to the nation with a default is not governing.

    February 20, 2014 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Thom

    The debt is not nearly as bad as they right makes it to be...........it's just that it's all they have left to run on. The debt has been cut in half under Obama and actually looks pretty good right now. Check out the debt and deficit numbers now.

    February 20, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Ray

    Cruz is toast. He'll be voted out when his initial term is up. He'll be a one-term loser since he only represents a small fringe right wing constituency. I'm a 5th generation Texan and can say without hesitation that he does not represent me, an average Texan in any way, shape, or form. He has cost the American taxpayer a lot of money and has damaged the economy with his antics.

    February 20, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. obawendon

    I can't understand for the life of me why this man would want to bring down the full faith and credit of the United States by causing us to default on the bills already authorized by congress. His super right wing opinions and attempts to make the country think His Way, make me positive he would get my vote for President. Also, I believe I read somewhere he was born in Canada and obtained naturalized US Citizenship and is now trying to renounce his Canadian Citizenship. How could he even run for President if this is true?

    February 20, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. catori Shadi

    See – if you had formed your own "Far Right Party of America", instead of hijacking the GOP, you could make your own rules.

    February 20, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Jerry

    You Liberal cronies don't like him because he's telling everyone the TRUTH about your over spending so you try character assassination but too many people are seeing he is more right than your are. so keep writing him off and he will be in the white house in 2016 because of YOU...

    February 20, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. Mark in Montana

    I am a life long Republican. I am conservative, both fiscally and socially, yet I wish Ted Cruz would leave the party. He should go and form his own Tea Party to he can drink his own koolaid with his whacko buddies.

    February 20, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  20. Victor

    People saying the United States would go into default are ignorant. This is getting old, and it appears a majority of Americans are ignorant.

    Reality for you: The United States legally CANNOT default on it's debt obligation. Period, end of discussion. We have more than enough to pay the interest on the debt.

    February 20, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. elucidated1

    You can cannot find another Republican Congressman who is a better friend to the Democrats than Ted the cuban canadian Cruz. His stupidity is epic. On 10-25-13, Ted Cruz said "the government shutdown was a success."

    Then on January, 25, 2014 Ted Cruz said "I did not shutdown the government." A perfect metaphor for why the GOP is at risk and may never win another national election unless they can find a way to engage US women and keep the right wing, sanctimonious liars like Cruz out of the public eye. Ted, Hillary thanks you, as do all Democrats.

    February 20, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  22. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    If the Senate Republicans had a leader with a pair, instead of old Purneface, guys like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would be relegated to the back benches where they would only be heard from when it was time to vote, and then only with the words "Yea" or "Nay". I really miss Bob Dole.

    February 20, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. Scott

    Wow, an entire interview that can be summarized with two words, "You're wrong."
    Notice how Cruz doesn't say a single thing we SHOULD do, just that everything being done is wrong. This is why Congress has a 13% approval rating, because people like Cruz have abdicated the responsibility of governance. McConnell made a very difficult vote that will probably cost him, but he knew it was for the better of the country. THAT'S governance. Sorry Ted, only making politically expediant votes does not solve problems and neither does saying "You're Wrong!" and having no viable alternatives.

    Try governing the country for all it's citizens for once instead of only thinking about the 10% of the population that agrees with you. It's easy to work and surround yourself with only people who agree with you, but it also gets nothing done.

    February 20, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  24. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    "The Eyes of The LORD run to and fro throughout The Whole Earth, to shew Himself Strong in the behalf of Them whose
    Heart is perfect toward Him" (2nd Chronicles 16: 9)"The Eye of The LORD is upon Them that fear Him" (Psalm 33: 18).

    February 20, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Wallace Ryan

    We Canadians have taken control of the Republican Party!!! Next....the Presidency!

    February 20, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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