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. stuman

    Good cop bad cop tactic in republican party, They are creating the impression there are actually good well meaning republican politicians. However if they gained complete control this wack job would actually get his way. Smoke and mirrors as usual by these untrustworthy politicians.

    February 20, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. hubba bubba

    We need to deport cruz's dad back to cuba so he cant produce anymore banana boat trash like cruz & infest the american politics.....hate it when a two bit immigrant like cruz acts whiter than the real americans....at the end of the day he is still a stupid cuban....can't change that...

    February 20, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. RN

    It peopel of his mentality and party that are keeping the US from maximaizing its potential. We are always focused on abortion, immigrants, clogging the wheel of government. I think we shoudl let the Reds form their own county, so that we can move on. Recent reports shows how our kids are 3 grades below kids in Se Asia. lets focus on real issues and not Republican issues.

    February 20, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. Adam Morgan

    That isn't why Congress has a 13% approval rating Sen. Cruz. It has a rating that low because they can't get anything done. It is precisely because of the "stick to your principles regardless of what it means for people or the country and if you even think the word compromise you will be voted out" mentality. Compromise has been twisted into a word that means forsaking your values. You can compromise without giving up your principles. Married couples do it every dang day. People all over the world do it all the time. It's how things get done. Except in Congress. THAT is why the rating is so low.

    February 20, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. jjsooner

    "I work for 26 million Texans,” he said." Ok well you stay in Texas. They can put up with you. The rest of the country has no wish to put you as the next POTUS.

    February 20, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. sly

    "Trickery"? "A huge conspiracy"?

    This man does drugs – you can see it in his eyes, and you can see it in his actions. Likely Meth – I hear it makes one delusional.

    Ignore the fool. These are great times for America. Record stock market. Record 401K. Lowest deficit pct in 50 years. Thank you President Obama – you will go down as one of the most influential progressive Presidents ever.

    February 20, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. dsangiovanni

    This guy is one of the reasons a lot of people don't like the Republican Party.....Period....

    February 20, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. Mark_in_FL

    Ted Cruz, the Democrats dream candidate. If the far right will never compromise they will eventually be out in the cold since they do not even come close to representing the majority of Americans. They are the best advertising the Dems have to the center right.

    February 20, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  9. arnie

    I'm from Houston. He is a disgrace to us Texans.

    February 20, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Sam

    I question the senility of people of TX / the district who elected people like Cruz or people of Minnesota who elected Bachmann etc to represent them in Senate and/or the House. Yes, I understand they bring a different point of view but ultimately the goal should be working with others and get some things done and not hamper the progress.

    February 20, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Lee Crowell

    Ted Nugent is NOT a Texan. He was NOT educated in the great state of Texas. He is a yankee transplant from Michigan.

    February 20, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. Momo

    TED, TED, TED, TED, TED.......you can win the presidency with just the Tea Party.

    February 20, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. z2cents

    Comon people, cut him some slack. He is from Texas...and if you go to Texas, this sort of reasoning is normal.

    February 20, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. In Retrospect

    So, Teodoro Rafael Cruz is of Cuban ancestry huh? Seems like he would then be better serving Castro than these United States! His arrogance and self-aggrandizement is making many wake-up to smell the coffee of what this man is truly about. I sure wish the Democrat gentleman who was running against him, Mr. Sadler, had won the Senate seat for Texas. Too bad he didn't as he really deserved it and would have done a heck of a better job for us without the embarrassment and headaches!

    February 20, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  15. Mark in Seattle

    The gotp on Cruz control.

    February 20, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  16. J Russ

    Regardless of your like or dislike for Mr Cruz, I agree with his statment that people want to support someone who represents them. Personnally I cannot vote for anyone of either party that participates in these "show votes" in opposition to their previously stated position. And you have to admit that it goes on on both sides of the aisle. While most will say (especially those established in the system) that it's a wasted vote , I'm firmly leaning towards all third party candidates until we can see some trust and honesty in DC

    February 20, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. RickFromTexas

    I wonder if Ted Cruz will ever have an A HA! moment and realize that GOP politicians like him are why Congress has such poor ratings.

    I do love the tea party, though, these ignorant narcissists have made the GOP's downfall truly enjoyable to watch. It just cracks me up that a tail like Ted Cruz thinks he can wag the dog, when if fact they're merely fleas.

    February 20, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Matt

    I think Cruz is going to find his own head on the block, with his own party controlling the guillotine.

    February 20, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. dinkydow

    Be careful! Ted's usually right.

    February 20, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. clouseau2

    Congress has a 13% approval rating because people like Ted Cruz pander to the most extreme elements of their party and put ideology above doing their jobs, not because they do not "stand up for principles."

    February 20, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Jeff

    Obama has been a disaster...we love you Cruz!

    February 20, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. dave

    These articles about cruz and republicans are always comical. I guess they have to do them to show there is an opposition, that 2%, maybe in cruz's case, .0000002%.

    February 20, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. ritmocojo

    I'm surprised that not even one of his fellow Fright Wingers hasn't kicked his can yet.

    February 20, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Misguided Party

    Ted Cruz represents the party of CUTS! Serious cuts to the American people where it hurts them the most. We need Social Security which we have EARNED through paying for years out of our paychecks. We also need Clean Water, Clean Air, Good Education, Better Schools, the Dream Act passed, Parity for those who are different, Help for those who are down and out and looking for a job, etc. all of the things Republicans despise and it would be a cold day in hell they would ever support that which is right and just for our country. Go Democrats!! All the Way to 2014, 2016, and Beyond!!

    February 20, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Patriot

    Good Lord, did you notice that Cruz is actually Bill Murray in makeup to make him look younger? All a clever left wing conspiracy, paid for by Al Gore, to hire an actor that would play an insane Republican.

    February 20, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
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