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. Charles

    The Republicans allowed Ted Cruz to speak as their head, now he is giving them a headache. I wonder what they can do, to rid themselves of this pain?

    February 20, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. artreality

    Ted Cruz and Ted Nugent....A pair of right-wingnuts who are perfect together. One's an admitted draft dodger, and the other is an admitted reality-dodger....Two reasons the Republican'ts will wither and die...

    February 20, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. VEW2012

    This man's type of self-centered arrogance if he should ever reach power would destroy this country. Ted go back to Texas and stay there with that other fool Nugent. .

    February 20, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. spudnik56

    If this guy were any more brain dead, he'd ne a walking pop tart...

    February 20, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. tednugent'sdiapers

    I'm with you, Quest!

    February 20, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. cjb

    Ted Cruz is amazing! He's the only one representing his constituents. Because of his exposure of the RINOS, I will be changing my vote to align with Ted Cruz's endorsements. Ted Cruz is a HERO in Texas.

    February 20, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Libs wouldn't know a good guy when they see him anyways. 🙂

    February 20, 2014 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Jim

    Nice to see this modern-day Joe McCarthy can't gain a foothold outside TX. A native Texan, I am ashamed he has one there.

    February 20, 2014 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. truth be told

    Cruz is right. A lot of personal attacks in here against him, but no facts to prove him wrong though. Demorcats hte him for telling the truth, something they abhor and shun. Demorcats just hate any and all that won't go along with their endless borrowing and spending. Demorcats have no solution to the endless borrowing and spending, just a lot of name calling.

    February 20, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. kwaldenwood

    To answer Dana...check the mid-90's when Newt Gingrich and his gang started this slippery slope into vitriol hell. It has had almost 20 years to ripen and at this point it stinks.

    February 20, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    When Ted Cruz talks about "voting on principle", he's really talking about voting on ideology without any regard for the actual consequences of that vote. A truly dangerous politician.

    February 20, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Embarrassed Republican

    We have an obligation to pay our debts.
    That is all raising the debt ceiling does. It does not hand the president a blank check as this fool likes to portray it.

    I wonder what he thinks of Ronald Reagan?
    Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 freaking times!

    February 20, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. minnie

    So debt is a problem but climate change isn't? I think Cruz actually is smart enough to know better, but willing to take the planet down for his own short-term popularity.

    February 20, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Michael SC

    Nugent is a certified coward and poacher. Nothing more.

    February 20, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. laggs

    There is a reason for all these negative comments and it has nothing to do with what he says or does and everything to do with the fear that he is right and that he might one day become our president.

    February 20, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. bocajim

    I predict we will not see a Republican pres again in our life time.

    February 20, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Embarrassed Republican

    "Ted Cruz is amazing!"

    Yea...its amazing how one guy can make the whole party look like a bunch of idiots...amazing indeed.

    February 20, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Twithers

    " ..... and you people laugh at him. This is why there is a seperation of human evolution. Most of the people here are incapable of seeing what is coming, due to your inablility to mentally evolve. Keep laughing. You will need a good sense of humor soon enough."

    No, we don't laugh at Cruz in so much as we pity the citizenry of Texas for having this massive egotist as their senator. He would bring the country to financial ruin just to get his way. His filibuster that led to shutting down the Federal government for sixteen days should be proof of that, at a cost of billions to the economy in lost revenue. Just the federal park system alone lost $450.000 a day. I can assure you that what ever problems this country has Cruz is not the least bit interested in solving them.

    February 20, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. martha

    I what people people to know that there are alot of texans that do not support ted cruz or gov perry. These people are self serving and do not have thier constituents best interest at heart. They hope that if they say that enough times people will believe it. wake up texas!

    February 20, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. Lucas

    Glad to see at least one member of Congress is standing up for conservative principles!

    February 20, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Bo Jangles

    Here's a novel idea. Instead of hurting the country by playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States, how about if the politicians compromise to address long-term deficits by providing more revenue (through tax reform, as desired by Democrats) and by enacting entitlement reforms (as desired by Republicans).

    February 20, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. DaveTexan

    Living in San Antonio, I can tell you this guy does not represent all of us. Between Perry, Bush, Nugent, and Cruz *sigh* where are the Dixie Chicks when you heed them?

    February 20, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. SixDegrees

    Go away, Ted.

    February 20, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Santiago Benitez

    Ted Cruz talking shades of Fidel Castro, beware Amerca

    February 20, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Doug

    No, Mr. Cruz, show votes like this are NOT why congress has a 13% approval rating. In this case, the "show vote" was for the base of the party. The irresponsible, Moronic base of the party (basically now known as "the Teaparty") is constantly wanting to play these games and clap each other on the back. But their strategy of not raising the dept ceiling is tantamount to a housewife deciding to "spend less" by not paying the bills that she already owes! It's not the way to cut spending, it's the way to upset the markets and be very irresponsible stewards of our economy.

    Congress has a 13% approval rating because of yahoos like Cruz and his ilk that have been elected to congress and are now trying out every stupid idea they had when monday morning quarterbacking how to do things in DC from their barka loungers at home. Congress has a 13% approval rating, because rather than working and compromising, they stalwart and play these childish political games they don't even understand!

    February 20, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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