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. Mr. Moderate

    Incredibly hostile to the second amendment????

    They increased the number of places (national parks, Amtrak) that paranoid gun owners can take their weapons, they proposed some modest changes to try to limit carnage (limit the number of bullets in a magazine, keep the mentally ill from purchasing).

    That's incredibly hostile? Keep selling the paranoia, unfortunately all to many gun owners buy it lock, stock and barrel and it is good for business.

    February 20, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  2. chatmandu002

    Getting tired of the "go along to get along","kick the can down the road" RINOs that have forsaken their principles for political expediency. It's time to stand on principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government and free market enterprise the 3 core Tea Party values.

    February 20, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  3. steve

    Watch out, they our feeding on there own now. Goodie. Tax Brakes for the Wealthy and Tax the Poor. Sorry Middle Class, your a shrinking society. With Ted in office it wont be long before your trying to figure out how to put food on the table our is that already happening?

    February 20, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. American From Ohio

    This man should be president or VP under Rand Paul! Those of you knocking him should have your voting rights taken!

    February 20, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. me

    Yes, the Republicans he's referring to will get clobbered in the polls, but by only a certain segment of their populace... the knuckle-draggers who side with idiots like Cruz! For every one of those tea toting neanderthals who don't give their vote, it will be made up by the moderate Republicans who are doing all they can to stick with a party that makes the 3 Stooges look like presidential hopefuls!

    February 20, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. scarf


    His politics are wrong but his honesty is admirable, I guess.

    You could make the same statement about Hitler. He told the world what he had planned in "Mein Kampf." (And, no, I'm not comparing the pollitics of Cruz with those of Hitler. I'm simply pointing out your statement is empty of substance...Sort of like speaking admiringly of values instead of virtues.)

    February 20, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  7. Mark

    If the GOP cannot real this guy in then he's going to wind up costing them elections. All he does is criticize and offer no solutions. He would sooner see the middle and lower class suffer through a default than do what is necessary. His "my way or the highway" is bad for everyone except the upper class. He should leave the GOP and become the Libertarian that he is. He has no concept of what it takes to be successful at governing. All he know is how to criticize without offering viable solutions. Right now he's the liberals best friend.

    February 20, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. Buzz

    Reading the comments already posted, it would logically seem that they are written by upper echelon members of the Demo party.
    They are scared of Mr. Cruz and they deserve to be. Here is a very astute Senator with the guts to stand up for our desired way of life. He does not run from the fray. If only we had more men like Ted Cruz, we could make this a far better country and reclaim our position as world leaders.

    February 20, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Dan

    Cruz is an idiot. I don't know how else to put it. His education would suggest otherwise, so it creates contradiction: is he really this dumb or is he acting that way to appeal to voters? The former would imply he's incompetent, and the latter would imply he's deceptive (and incompetent).

    His response to climate change vs. Iranian nuclear weapons is a testament to his ignorance. Iran, right now, does not possess such weapons. Even if it did, the threat is not in the use–but the potential for use. Israel, India, Pakistan…all have nuclear weapons but have never used them despite living in heated areas filled with turmoil. Why? Because they realize the repercussions. It's about losing a bargaining chip/the ability to manipulate Iran. Once they demonstrate they are capable of possessing nuclear weapons, then it's not about taking the offensive and attacking others–it's a measure to prevent being bullied. The fear is how it will impact oil prices.

    Conversely, climate change is real and it impacts so many facets of how we live. Crops and livestock and water supplies. Food and water shortages. It's real, and it leads to inflated prices and people need to be worried. That Cruz views an abstract, distant fear as more serious than something that is real and happening is but one of many, many signs that he's unfit for office. That he's able to garner votes has me questioning the intellectual fabric of Texas.

    February 20, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. randy

    I am proud of the way they gve this guy his notice!

    February 20, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. freeman

    Ted is right. No one stand up for the principles they believe in. they just do what will get rthem elected.

    February 20, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. Bob in Ohio

    I love when Ted Cruz speaks. It makes me realize how few people on these comment pages actually support his silly ideas (thank God!).

    February 20, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. Steve

    I am not a Cruz fan so much but I have to say, he is one of only a few who posses a "pair" when it comes to standing up for his constituency. All the rest either "toe" the party line and do what their party leaders tell them to. So far, the Dems have stood together and pushed an agenda that is wrecking the economy. They make up numbers, skew CBO findings, and outright LIE, but they do stand together, so far!

    February 20, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  14. Sokman

    Hopefully after November we'll have more elected officials like Cruz, & we can start getting this country back on track.

    February 20, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  15. gladiatorgrl

    the FACT that Nugent is making the rounds with Cruz and the AG of that state is just more proof positive they've lost their minds

    February 20, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. I don't get it

    Mr Cruz is once again on a personal crusade to make himself appear better than everyone else. Forget the fact without his showmanship all 45 would have gone on record as being against the ceiling limit without his little side show. His actions were meant to make his fellow republicans look bad.. and he succeeded, but I'm not so sure he is going to like the results.

    February 20, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Cruz needs to give George W. Bush credit for saying "I can look in Putin's eyes and tell he's a good man" . Cruz can take his marbles and go home(Canada) until he learns "We are the People" and not him or his band of teabaggers. The GOP done the right thing and Cruz is angry and they don't care.

    February 20, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. tim

    There is a saying questioning the masses about "wanting what they say they want". I'm giving this guy the same look I gave Obama, Bush, Hillary...and I am not yet sure how I feel about him. Some things i like, some I do not- same as when I look at any politician. With that said, the majority say they want someone who is transparent and does what they say they would do and then when someone rocks the status quo moving in that direction, everyone jumps ship and shows they really do not want what they say they do. In this case I applaud this guy- stand up and give a solid vote so I get a chance to see where my representative really stands. As a Democrat I would hate this guy because I would fear him as he is different and he is strong. As a conservative I would love him for the same reasons. What will matter more than him and his behavior is the time within which he lives and those who share the political spectrum with him. Bush and the Republicans gave us President Obama. It will be interesting to see what President Obama and the Democrats deliver to us.After all, in our process, parties lose power, they do not take hold of it. This guy will rise or fall based upon the Democratic party and in this case the Republican party as well. He is an interesting man living in an interesting time.

    February 20, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  19. josey

    Republicans like to SPEND – but don't want to PAY for it.

    February 20, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  20. Mark

    In the real world a 13% approval rating would get anyone fired, especially if your the head clown of the circus.

    February 20, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  21. conner

    snd him back to canada where he was born. funny how a birther is the one who was actually born in another country

    February 20, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Peter

    How can a person be so deliriously self righteous? And really, who does this guy think he is?
    Ted Cruz is on a mission to destroy this country, and he needs to be stopped, right now.

    February 20, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Rik

    The GOP will get clobbered but not because of this Mr. Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. Ed Zumar

    Incredibly shallow minded individual – who elects these clowns?

    February 20, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. James Napoli

    Cruz is not a states person. Has no policy ideas. And ultimately little to offer as a US Senator.

    February 20, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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