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. Kevin Heinicke

    Ted "Joe McCarthy" Cruz is DELUSIONAL if he thinks he stands for ANYWHERE near 26 million Texans. It is a VERY small percentage of that number. If his 2012 Senate race was reheld today he would not even be a blip on the radar! He has embarrassed way too many Texans like me.

    February 20, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Victor

    You can immediately know when somebody does not know what they are talking about in regard to the debt conversation. Whenever they claim that we would "go into default."

    This isn't a home or college loan. Legally, the interest on the debt is required to be paid. Other programs would have to be cut to accommodate the limitation on spending. But the debt payment WOULD be paid. This is REQUIRED BY LAW.

    What they are really saying is this: "We are not going to reduce the size of the Federal Government, and we are going to continue to grow it."

    Anybody who says we will go into default should not be taken seriously.

    February 20, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. WillyTheShake

    Dear Ted, on behalf of Hillary, Harry, and the entire Democratic Party; Thank You!

    February 20, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Lysh

    The same Ted Cruz who lead the shut down of the government, then turn around and said "I never wanted to shutdown the government" is chiding others for dishonesty.

    Cruz is the worst kind of politician. You can keep your snake oil, comrade.

    February 20, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. The REAL Truth...

    can you say FAIL, FAIL, FAIL.... much like Greg Abbott rolling out Ted Nugent (I'll refrain from the usual rw tactics and not call him a washed up looney subhuman_mongrel) on his campaign.

    February 20, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  6. noly972

    Let me get this straight: Ted Cruz wants the GOP to favor NOT paying our national bills because the willingness to do so is why Congress has a low rating? Wow! Clueless in DC....

    February 20, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. Joe NYer

    For all those who degrade Ted Cruz as demagogue of a traitor, please understand the courage and conviction that it takes to point out the failures within one's OWN party. That's called looking out for and not selling the American people. The Republicans ARE divided and have shown no backbone against this tyrannical administration-one that makes up it's own rules and breaks their own rules strangely enough. Sorry if the Constitution gets in the way of their political ambitions. I say thank you Ted.

    February 20, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Ron in SC

    Who care what he says or thinks? He has already shown himself to be an extremist loose canon and bad for the country. I'd say he falls into the Sarah Palin 15 minutes of fame is over category.

    February 20, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Pandamonius

    I'm consistently amazed at some Republicans lack of understanding the obvious. Yet again here is another republican claiming that they are losing elections because they are not far enough to the right. He believes, like several others do, that there is somehow a vast pool of right wing extremists out there who'd rather have Obama, with all of his "socialist policies", than to vote for a Republican who is not extreme enough.

    Ted "Canada/Cuba" Cruz is not there to help Republicans. He's not there to help Texans, he's not there to help Americans. He's there to help himself. He isn't competing with Democrats, because he must know he can't beat them in General Elections, because the majority wants moderates, not extremists. No, he's competing with Republicans. He uses tactics like this Filibuster, that he KNEW would force some Republicans to vote against it, to harm members of his own party. Look at who he nailed... He forced several of the TOP Republicans in the senate to look bad. He's trying to initiate a coup within his own party, and situate himself as the top dog.

    He scares me. He's the type who's far more likely to set himself up as a king or dictator than Obama or any other democrat.

    February 20, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. my10cents

    What Ted calls transparency most sane people call grandstanding or showboating. Ted is all about Ted, it is his 24/7 obsession. Ted plays to a packed house, for now, because currently there are enough voters in Texas who can still be convinced that they will be better off denying themselves something if only to prevent somebody else they don't like from receiving it as well.

    February 20, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Say What?

    Canadian Cruz, the reason congress has a lower rating of 13%, isn't because they passed the debt ceiling, its because people are tired of people like you.

    February 20, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Michael Marshall
    Continuing to raise the Debt Ceiling is insanity. We already have way too much debt(over 100% of GDP currently). If we don't stop raising the Debt Ceiling and cut spending then it will just be worse later on. Americans grocery bills are a clear example of this insanity. I admire Ted Cruz for having the courage to stand up to this reckless spending when most politicians prefer to take the easy way out.
    Where were these phony debt people when the Iraq war was running up the debt?

    February 20, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. sbul

    Republican's should "get clobbered in the polls" not because they voted for the raise in the debt ceiling but because they are "do nothing" politicians. As far as the climate goes there is one place they have not shown any leadership and I agree with Kerry: :If we do nothing we all will lose. This is a world wide problem and needs the whole world do act on it. If the US is going to be a leader for the world this is where we can have the most influence. We need leaders, not nay sayers and politicians that cater to their "lobbyists".

    February 20, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. Wasnt Mee

    If he had any conjones, he would go after the banking issues which have driven us into an escalating spiral that will have no place to go but down.

    February 20, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. HodgePodgeRodg

    Cruz is digging himself a hole he thinks he'll be able to jump out of with no legs. One cannot be a one man army and expect to gain traction in a political pool full backdoor deals and alliances. I guarantee, although you work for, you do not represent the ideology of 26 million Texans. Single handedly shutting down the government certainly did not gain you any brownie points in the righteous category by any level headed republicans. Republicans aren't backing down from their ideology or core principles, they're, we're compromising in order to keep this Great Nation heading in any direction other than nowhere, the direction you seem to be quite comfortable with. Btw, gravity is just a scientific theory, too, but nobody doubts it's existence. Relativity is still just theory, but becoming closer and closer to being scientific law. Natural selection and evolution is just a theory, but we see evolution on a daily basis with new antibiotic resistant bacteria emerging and Round-Up resistant weeds. Climate change is not just the mean temperature of the earth slightly increasing because of your bulletproof Tahoe. It's the massive storms sweeping across the US, ravaging the eastern seaboard on what seems to be a routine basis. It's the sever drought in the South Western United States. It's the ever more frequent category EF 5 tornadoes ripping homes, families and lively hoods apart. It's the hot, dry, rainless rainy seasons in Bangladesh. It's the crop shortages in Africa driving people to make money for survival any way possible, even if it's terrorism or illegal poaching.

    February 20, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. Matt

    If Mr. Cruz and his supporters distrust President Obama as much as they appear to, why does Mr. Cruz act in a way that would give the President more power than he already has? Suppose his filibuster succeeded and the U.S. went into default. Who would decide which programs would be funded and not funded? President Obama. And if the President has the power to decide which programs to fund, why would he not usurp Congress' power to tax in order to continue to fund programs people want (which he would, of course, since Mr. Cruz and his supporters think the President wants to steal from the rich)? Once that happens Congress is effectively dead and the President is a dictator.

    February 20, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  17. j

    Guys like this want to make sure their religious beliefs come true. Therefore considering the environment or health is a waste of time and money but we can never have enough war and war expense to overpower those we oppose.

    February 20, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. PaulyD

    Instead of the headline reading: Cruz slams GOP heads," I so wish it could read: "GOP slams Cruz's head."

    February 20, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  19. Jim Brody

    You are going DOWN, GOPers. And Ted Cruz is the one taking you there!

    February 20, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. DougNJ

    Pretty sad when politicians feel that their constituents will not realize how they play at politics. "But I voted against the ceiling". Sure, after they voted to prevent discourse [filibuster] thus ensuring the bill's passage. "But the people that vote for me are too dim to appreciate the subtleties of governing".

    February 20, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Hillary Clinton

    Thanks for the good work, Ted! Please keep it up!

    February 20, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. willobi

    Ted Cruz is certifiably insane. Every time he opens his mouth he dig that hole a little deeper. Him and Ted Nugent will be the end of the GOP as we now know it, which won't be a bad thing at all.

    February 20, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. Adam

    Cruz stands for everything wrong with America. Its a me-first attitude, coupled with contempt for compromise and a distrust of science. Please let this man's moment in the spotlight be over soon.

    February 20, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Jo Se

    Who attacks Cruz? Those are the people that need to be removed from any government role and from any credibility. Simple test.

    February 20, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. American Worker

    Oh the RINO suck-ups must be dethroned.

    February 20, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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