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. The Real Tom Paine

    -tom l

    Not sure how anyone could disagree with him on this but I'm sure the liberals on here will find a way purely based on WHO has delivered this message.
    The messenger does matter, tom, and after a while, even if people do agree with him, there will always be the sense of suspicion because of the tactics he has employed and the contempt he displays for people who diagree with him., He may be courteous to people in private, but his public statements and tactics negate any courtesy he extends to them behind closed doors.

    February 20, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. CSD

    Oh man this guy is a whack job. "The best and brightest" conservative mind. Yeesh.

    February 20, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Stray

    As a Canadian I want to apologize for the Canuck-Cuban from Texas. However, all sales are final, and you people are stuck with him.

    February 20, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  4. DaveC

    An angry little man who belittles anyone who dares to disagree with him.He feels he is the only "pure" republican. Gee Ted, I used to be a republican (voted for Gerald Ford, Reagan twice and George Bush Sr,.once. Starting with Bill Clinton I voted democrat. The reason I changed from republican to democrat is because of people like Ted Cruz.I will continue to vote democrat until the time the Republicans field candidates like the thee mentioned above (i.e. crazy right wing nutjobs).

    February 20, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. PatheticCruz

    Oh the people of Texas, where were your voices when Bush incurred $2 trillion dollars of debt to wage his illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, lying to every one of us as well as the world about those pesky little WMDs that never existed. What short little memories you seem to have. We might as well cut food stamps and all forms of social welfare to help pay for those mistakes, right? But you'll be damned if they sacrifice even one B2 bomber!!! If you believe in God or Jesus or what's written in the Bible, I hope you have a plan for what you are going to tell Him come your judgement day, and how you rejected all of His words for your own silly, pathetic, hypocritical, warmongering ideologies. You are beyond detestable.

    February 20, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Ancient Texan

    Ted is correct about one thing; the GOP elite can take credit for the losses in the last two presidential elections. Compromising on principles isn't a winner.

    February 20, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. conoclast

    Ever seen what a republican-gerrymandered "district" looks like? Those ultra-right constituents are getting hard to find, much less connect, eh Teddy-Boy?

    February 20, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  8. Susan

    I received a mailing from the National Republican Party last week with a fundraising message from John McCain. Worst possible move the National Party could have made in soliciting. I send the McCain message back to the party in their postage page envelope and told them to shove it. McCain is NO REPUBLICAN. National Party doesn't have a clue what their party people want. I'll take Cruz over McCain or the Party any day.

    February 20, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  9. Go Educate yourself before you comment

    I do not agree with some of what Ted Cruz says, but I have to say, most of the people making comments on here are so totally ignorant of the facts and how the country works, its pathetic. Its also why this country is in such bad shape. First, Cruz is a US Citizen, so he can run for President, regardless of the fact he would lose. People calling him a canadian is like calling a military brat born in Germany a German. Its only partly based on where you are born, but what the greatest factor is your parents citizenship status (unless you are born in the US, then it doesn't matter regardless of your parents citizenship status). Next, he actually totally understands US finances. Not raising the debt ceiling does not mean we wouldn't be able to pay our bills. It means we cannot spend more money than we bring in, which is exactly the problem with this country. At what point does the government actually live within its means like the majority of Americans do. Most people that commented on here are saying its okay to take out loans to pay for the loans you took earlier that you cannot afford to pay already because you still spend too much. Most people want equality until they get it. If everyone wants equality, we should have a consumption tax. Instead of paying income tax, you pay a percentage on all purchases that qualify for sales tax (except food since its a necessity). For example, if you use 10%, someone making $15,000 will not spend more than $1500 a year in taxes. Where someone making $100,000 a year can pay up to $10,000 a year in taxes. This country would also bring in money from the illegals that dont currently pay taxes or those people that lie on their taxes, because we all know they still shop at Walmart. We would also get money from tourists spending money in our country. If you want to hit the rich, then add a luxury tax of 5% for any purchase of an item over $50,000. However, you will never see that pass, because its fair, treats everyone equally with no loopholes and makes too much sense.

    February 20, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. currency1896

    so cruz wants to go to war against russia to shore up his conservative principals to win a republican presidential primary with no chance of winning a general election .... now there is some sound thinkin' ....... but wait he'll need money for that war (before he gets us all killed) and he won't vote to increase funding ...... now that is a problem for his noodle to chew on ..... how 'bout he move back to his native canada ... canada forced justin bieber on us, we should return the favor

    February 20, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  11. Michael

    First they love him. Then they hate him. Fickle people.

    February 20, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. danomite

    Ted Cruz is the Democrat's best friend come the 2014 election.

    February 20, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. Mary

    I am a Texan. Ted Cruz is an embarrassment to himself, Texas, Republicans, and the United States of America.

    February 20, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Collin

    Just because you went to Princeton doesn't mean you are smart. W. went to Yale – look how that turned out...

    February 20, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. Mary

    I am a Texan. Ted Cruz is an embarrassment to himself, Texas, Republicans, and the United States of America. He does not represent me or any Texan I know.

    February 20, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. laquisha

    Cruz was right to take a stand against Obama care and he's right about this unlimited borrowing on the backs of the unborn American children in this country. To all the nay sayers "business as usual" crony capitalists I say "have you no shame?"

    February 20, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. California Grandma

    Ted Nugent is the epitome of Texas education.
    Texas is the state wanting to deny the historic record of the Holocaust.
    As Wolf Blitzer indicated, "subhuman mongrel" was what the Nazis called
    the Jews as a way to rationalize their extermination.

    Let's get real about the Republican Party – when they condone language like this – it is not the language used by inclusive people, and everyone of color needs to take note.

    It is the language of fascism.

    Boycott all thing Ted Nugent.

    Boycott the Republican Party.

    February 20, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. CNP

    This man is a disaster for Texas and for the United States of America. I can't believe my fellow Texans voted in enough numbers to elect him. Here's hoping they come to their senses the next time around....

    February 20, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. blf83

    Cruzin' for a bruzin'.

    February 20, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. FedUpwithLA

    Is it a good thing to put this country on "Cruz control"?

    February 20, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Carly

    Ted Cruz MUST BE a democrat plant. Why is he so bent on destroying the Republican Party?

    February 20, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. LogicSquared

    Ted says he represents 26 million Texans. I'd like to know what Texan opinion polls on Ted Cruz look like these days. Is his approval rating anywhere north of 40%? If so, then I'm all for Texas seceding from the USA. I just can't believe there are that many whack jobs in that (what I once thought was a) great state.

    February 20, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. MTATL67

    The Senator must think the American voters are as stupid as he is. I can not believe a sitting Senator is supporting and promoting a racist like Ted Nugent. It is very disturbing.

    February 20, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. 8knot8

    I never understood the call for less government spending, a shrinking of debt and reducing taxation being uttered in the same breath as this almost explicit calling for more military posturing and presence. How does that work?

    February 20, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    Yes, but the debt ceiling vote is part of the that legal obligation, or did you miss that critical piece of information in your efforts to dismiss the issue? Besides, the appearance of default is enought to make markets nervous, or do you like having more uncertainty injected into the equation? Your ingnorance of that fact is what makes people like Cruz so dangerous: they ignore critcal facts in order to make their case. Running the country is not like a legal argument: there are bits of reality that transcend politcs, or at least they should.

    February 20, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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