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.
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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
He, like all politicians is playing a game.
Cruz is a self-important, dominionist son of what Miami's Cuban community calls a "grumpy old man". He is a narcissist who only cares about Ted Cruz.
Oh Teddy Teddy Teddy...somebody like you saying conservatives should be honest with their constituents is the punch line of the year!
and that is why you will never be President of the U.S., Mr. Cruz.
Every Democrat in the land should stand and applaud Ted Cruz for singlehandedly working to ensure that the GOP of the future will stand for the likes of Ted Nugent, misogynists, xenophoes, homophobes and racists.
It's not every day that one man tries to wreck his party daily.
Ted Cruz, I salute you. Keep up the good work that Democrats will want you to do. And that is to destroy the GOP and push some centrist republicans to the Democrats or to Paul Rand style libertarians.
Again, great job, Ted Cruz. Oh, btw, Ted. you have chutzpah for being the son of an immigrant man from Cuba, being a a Canadian and then immigrating to Texas to tell Hispanics that they don't belong there. Hispanics who have been there for 300 years and those with Indian blood, who have been here 13,000 years in what is now the U.S. Such chutzpah is unprecedented, eh, Ted, Mr. Immigrant and Mr. Faux Texan?
Can we send this buffoon back to Canada? By the way, this man is NOT eligible to run for President. We know that Mr. Cruz was born in Canada. Last time I checked Canada was not a U.S. state, nor is it a territory of the U.S. Only natural born citizens can run for POTUS, therefore Mr. Cruz is ineligible. If you disagree then, by your own logic, Obama could have run if he had been born in Kenya. You can't have it both ways.
The question I have for Sen. Cruz: Is the upcoming mid-term election about winning a peeing contest within the Republican Party, (between Tea Party Candidates), or is it about winning the election? Seems to me that the Republican Leadership in "clearing the decks" of distracting issues, such as a fight over the debt-celiling, immigration, the price of tea and China, etc., gives the "larger" Republican Party a single debate issue: the ACA. Plus fixing the economy and a few other private sector job issues. Senator Cruz appears to want to tie himself to the mast of the good ship lollipop and divide the Republican Party going into the election. Not having a clear way forward by a unified party, will re-elect Democrat Senators without question. Then where will Sen Cruz be – on the outside looking in until 2016. Not a happy nor desirable outcome in my opinion.
"...warning Republicans will get “clobbered in the polls” for not standing up for principle."
The problem is, this is a code word for not discussing nor compromising. Not the principle of democratic representation.
Sorry Ted, with your leadership the relevance of the GOP will continue to wain.
Good to know you feel that way Ted....so that means that the Judge and 2 County Commissioners that you met with 2 weeks ago in Texas and who are now facing ethics charges as a result of that meeting won't be getting any special treatment from you or anyone you know in Texas.....right?
I live in Texas, and Cruz does not speak for me. I live in one of those gerrymandered areas where my vote never counts anyway.
Not only do I not like to hear what he has to say, I think his voice sounds like a squeaky toy. Can't hit the mute button fast enough.
It is pretty easy to understand why the GOP has kept the far right silent for so long. At first I thought it was arrogant but now it is apparent the GOP knew exactly what they were doing. No one should hear the garbage these baggers believe unless they too would like to see this country bankrupt by "choosing" not to pay our bills. Not a good plan and the adults in the GOP know it. Another good thing done by McConnell, he did not want to do it but had no choice. He and the other adult GOPers know making money is still a good thing. It is interesting to watch the Dems takeover their role of being in bed with business. Who knew the Republicans would be capable of such stupid economic strategies? Americans simply are not this dumb and even Cruz is beginning to figure that one out. Just cuz you say you did not shut down the government does not mean Americans believe you. LOL!!!!
Thank you, Ted Cruz! Stick your honesty and your principals; we will have your back!
The Cruz/tea party approach will, unfortunately, win some seats in local elections, but it is destined to always fail in national elections. And, as long as they are winning some local elections, it will embolden their no-compromise stance, leading to many more years of worse gridlock than now.
So, Ted, what you're saying is that every Republican in Congress should vote the way YOU want the vote to go, not the way his or her consituents may want the vote to go. You should all march lockstep regardless of your beliefs and ethics? What a grave misunderstanding of your job you are harboring.
No TED, the lunatic fringe – people like you – are why the Congress has such a low approval rating. You do not operate on REALITY. You do not work on RATIONAL THOUGHT. You do not know how to create POSITIVE VISION or EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP. You are a nut job and we all know it.
Texas should find someone who tells them the truth instead of telling them what they want to hear. We live in reality not fantasyland, reality requires we do what we need to do, in fantasyland you can say anything knowing its not possible. This country would be much further along with its recovery if we could just get rid of these clowns who want to keep their job by playing political games for their voters. If we really did what these losers want we'd be in a depression, we'd fail on our debts most of which were created by the last 3 republican Presidents and their follies, and our childeren would be faced with rebuilding a country from the ground up. Just a little reality for the people who think sound bites serve as solutions. I can tell you anything, but you need to be smart enough to know if its possible or just you playing to my fantasies. Texas do your patriotic duty and send us someone who can actually solve problems not just point them out and offer no solutions.
He's a man of his word – and has guts and intelligence. Refreshing!
Cruz and Nugent both appear to be drug addicts, likely Meth. Their eyes are very bleary, and both seem rather incoherent when they speak.
I suggest medical help for both to help them turn around their lives. Until then, obviously we should ignore their words, and try to get them the help they need.
I think Senator Cruz is correct . This country will soon be broke with this current administrations policys. We where promised transparency and many other. All we have gotten is executive privilege. With all the direct violation of our constitutional rights. And no answers regarding" fast and furious" and Bengasi. I hope our Republicans stay united and have the backbone to demand answers- transparency.
"I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington. I work for 26 million Texans.”
"In my view, we need to be honest with our constituents."
Sorry Ted, your rhetoric doesn't mirror your actions. What Ted Cruz and most other politicians on both sides of the aisle fail to recognize is that they represent all citizens, not just the people who voted them in. Cruz should take the time to look at both sides of every issue and temper his voting with what is best for all citizens that he represents not just the ones who personally share his conservative agenda.
What a piece of work. He looks like he was picked on a lot in high school.
Sorry, Senator Cruz but the reason behind the 13 % approval rating is that Americans realize that our political system is mostly populated by hacks that are only interested in reelection, showboating, and cushy lobbying jobs after their tenure.
If Mr. Cruz was really for the American Public, he would put SS and Medicare in a lock box, pay back all the money into that lockbox that Congress has used since 1963. Then they could not call it ENTITLEMENTS.
Honestly Ted Cruz's heart is in the right place, but his tactics aren't always sound. That being said, this was one of his better moments. We have a serious problem with the establishment party that wants to keep elected but do nothing. That isn't what opposition parties are supposed to do. Otherwise why not be a Democrat?
One thing I really wish people on the Left would do is wake up and realize it is big government and this anti-state government agenda that is stopping them from actually having the rule of law they desire, albeit smaller though. The idea of a limited government socialist who believes in state sovereignty is much more realistic than forcing New Keynesianism and redistribution of wealth on everyone.
The funniest thing about Ted Cruz is he honestly thinks he has a chance at becoming POTUS.