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. Hillary

    I took my social security asap since whacko's like Carnival Cruz want to end it. Too much socialism. Screw you.

    February 20, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  2. TomGI

    "In my view, we need to be honest with our constituents. And last week, what it was all about was truth and transparency..."

    Cruz talking about "truth" is pretty weird.

    February 20, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine


    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.
    Don't confuse your desired way of life with what the rest of us want.

    February 20, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Constitchency

    Thank goodness he's Canadian.

    February 20, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Larry L

    Some are missing both important points. 1. Cruz is correct in criticizing Republicans for trying to push through a vote that they don't have to stand behind – that's gutless. 2. Cruz is a complete moron for trying to get America to default on it's debts – an act that could push the country into a deep depression and trash the dollar's value on the world market.

    February 20, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. Constitchency

    Thank goodness he's Canadian. That means he can't be president.

    February 20, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. mikeinthevine

    I just don't remember hearing any of these fiscal conservatives when Bush was spending like a drunken sailor. He put us into two unfunded wars while cutting taxes at the same time. It had never been done in this country's history. Now we know why. It damn near collapsed the economy.

    February 20, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. asdf

    Cruz is the true Captain Hindsight. Ever wonder why the republicans never offer any solutions to our problems? Because they feel this is the way the country should be run – they don't see the decline of the middle class as a problem! They look at the past 60 years of unprecedented growth of the middle class as a failed social experiment born out of the excesses of a world war 2 victory.

    The rich have waited long enough. It is time for them to take their place back at the top without having to deal with the middle class.

    February 20, 2014 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. Jason

    Will G W Boosh ever pay the bills for his criminal oil wars

    February 20, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. JBHedgehog

    Hmmm...showing a bit of love for "The Nuge!".

    That's probably unwise.

    February 20, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Interested Observer

    Yup. Cruz should take over all the leadership in the GOP. Then the GOP will go through another period like the 1940's – where the only GOP discussion was whether the last person left should turn the lights off.

    We have had 4 years of GOP controlling the purse strings – how has that worked out for the average American? We all know that the ultra rich love it, but the average joe has been screwed. Time for sanity to return to congress. The Dem's need 67% of both houses of congress to fix the disasters forced on the American public by the extreme right wing to be fixed.

    Sadly – I say this as a lifelong republican. Until the extremists are driven out of my party, I cannot support my own party.

    February 20, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. Bill

    I stand with Cruz. He is a man of principle who is doing exactly what he told the voters of Texas he would do if elected, even if it angers members of his own party. That kind of leadership is rare in DC these days.

    February 20, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  13. Smeagel4T

    Cruz is such a disaster for the GOP I'd almost consider contributing to his reelection. Except I know I won't have to because he's an employee of the Koch Brothers.

    February 20, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. yogi

    we need a guy like this i am tried of all the rest they play with us at least Ted is bold enough to butt heads for what he believes all u could hear from Democrats was the debt now they love it i think that is being a hypocrite they say what they need to at that time
    A prime example of the electorate of the GOP for whom it is even difficult to form a coherent sentence. This is why people like Cruz are elected. May God bless America, and please hurry!

    February 20, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Ohioan from America

    Ted Cruz may convince himself that he is presidential material but he will never convince the nation. I would love to see a Cruz Rand ticket. The Democrats could nominate a donkey and win.

    February 20, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Thatguy

    "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.”

    What has Cruz and the Tea Party done to help the people that are struggling. Oh I forgot they are still selling the biggest scam of the past 100 years. "Trickle Down"

    February 20, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. Don

    Goes to show, anyone can run on the Republican side and win in Texas. I would like to see Democrats Win in the midterms here in my state

    February 20, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. gstlab3

    Conservatism and the U.S. Constitution so far as yet are the only things standing between the Citizenry and the coming total Tyrany and despotism from this NAACP, CIA, NSA, FBI, IRS, Wall Street run White house.,

    If you think that printing more of this Fiat currencey also known as Federal Reserve Notes., aka., fake money.,
    all of it to be spent today that children yet unborn will have to pay for is all cool and ok and just fine you are obviously a product of American public schooling and you may be considered by many here in Real Town USA criminally insane and a danger to oneself and others especially if you vote!

    February 20, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Thom Burke

    Please, send this man back to Canada.

    February 20, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Mark S

    The reason Congress has a 13% approval rating isn't because of trickery. It's because their sole agenda for the past 5 years now has been to utterly oppose anything the Obama administration has tried to accomplish. They are not representing the American people...they are representing a small elite group who has undertaken a full scale war to hold on to every penny and benefit that they can no matter how it affects the rest of the country.

    February 20, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The Senator must think the American voters are as stupid as he is."

    Make no mistake. Ted Cruz is laughing at all of those who support him for being as stupid as he knows them to be.

    February 20, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. gstlab3

    go ahead America vote for usefull idiots and banker stooges all you want and keep printing more of that infamous fake money and offshore the rest of your heavy industry so you can no longer make and build things you need including your own cancer fighting drugs and execution drugs and other vital medicines.

    February 20, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  23. rr

    As a fellow Texan, Ted Cruz does not represent me.

    February 20, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    "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."
    The flip side of this is that you can never change his mind even if you do present him with overwhelming evidence. He simply believes scientific evidence is not credible because it challenges his position, and since he has an absolutist view on everything, its damned before he even hears it. His rationale for ignoring the science is depressing.

    February 20, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. apetra

    Republicans control the House and can prevent action in the Senate.

    If the budget passes with Obamacare intact, if taxes go up, if spending goes up, if the debt ceiling goes up (all of these things happened), it's because the Republicans refused to stand firm. Period.

    The Republicans were owed negotiations and concessions from the Democrats. If the government seized up, it's because Democrats refused to act reasonably and responsibly.

    February 20, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
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