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. CO Rider

    Why does his saggy smug face just look like it needs punched?

    February 20, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Nic_Driver

    I wonder if Cruz is willing to stand with other GOPer's on immigration or if his "integrity" is only for issue dear to him? (read "hypocrite).

    Also, maybe someone should tell Ted Nuggent to stop watching so much Fox, Snopes.com debunked the "Obama is anti-gun" lie a long, long time ago. That doesn't stop Fox from repeating the lie, after all they are the station that went to court for their right to lie to their viewers...and then they complain when they are dropped from serious debate...go figure.

    February 20, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Reggie from LA

    1st of all, the historic "principle" has been to raise the debt ceiling (like it or not). Senator Cruz, your father (the earthly one) thinks you're special. I think you both like seeing your name in lights. Scholar that you are, you must give the rest of us lesser minds just a little bit of credit for being able to see right thru your antics because surely a lot of the rhetorical red meat you put out there can be no more that dog whistles.
    @Dywlf You don't think it's a shame that people are out there working hard and honestly have to receive assistance because they are still poor? No? Then you should support the "annointed one".

    February 20, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. bspurloc

    says the Canadian citizen....

    February 20, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Jim

    He's missing a minor (in his view) point. You have to build a coalition to govern vs just counterpunch or grandstand.

    February 20, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Only thing is shaping up is the size of his head. If Cruz attempts another COUP on this Government he should be extradited back to Canada, if they will take him or did they send him here to overthrow us.

    February 20, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Michael Marix

    Ted Cruz is NOT a hero in Texas. The man is an unadulterated fool..

    February 20, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. BW

    Someone please remind this person that he was elected to represent ALL of his constituents, not just the ones that agree with his personal philosophy. "Tis better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt" – Loosely taken from Confucius

    February 20, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. sly

    This TeaKlan is totally dishonest.

    100% of y'all Republicans (thats ALL of you) voted to increase spending and deficit under Bush.

    Stop the lies. There is 1 reason you all suddenly changed your position: Skin Color.

    February 20, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Susan McFarland

    The lone voice crying in the wilderness.about the gross mismanagement and overspending of tax dollars, yet he is ridiculed and hated by the very people who are footing the bill.
    You all may be able to ignore Cruz' pleas, but I'll bet you'll hear your grandchildren's anger.

    February 20, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Dennis Knicely

    From what I gather and review, Ted Cruz has a big mouth, is not afraid to use it, and sides with corruption as well as "best that money can buy" type political gaming. What he did last year to shut down Government must NOT be forgotten by those countless individuals that were adversely affected by this "Freshman idiocy". I hope both our Country's people are concerned with sustainability ahead of destructive "political gaming", for the biggest money corruption in Government that can be bought out with, like Ted Cruz has allowed himself to be part of.

    February 20, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Pancho

    It makes no sense to try to win elections by looking like democrats. Ted needs to be Ted. Let the people decide. I for one would rather see Ted Cruz president than Mitt Romney!

    February 20, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Jay

    Please forgive Texas for allowing Cruz to be elected to office. He is an embarrasement and will be an only one term politician before he goes on the welfare lecture circuit. We thought Rick Perry was the ultimate clown, we were wrong.

    February 20, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Lewis

    It was people like Ted Cruse who nearly killed the Republican Party. I don't care what you say about Obama he was right to tell the GOP to screw off during the government shutdown. Republicans need to know that Ted is wrong, the people of America want responsible debate and compromise. They sure as hell don't want immature brats to nearly destroy the economy because they didn't get their way.

    February 20, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. Sandra

    Tell you what... I'm getting more and more excited that, not only are we going to keep the senate, but we might have quite a reasonable stab at the house and will highly likely keep the BIG WHITE HOUSE as well. The more I read, the lower these embarrassing fools sink. Carry on!

    February 20, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. Mary

    We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle in order to feather their own nests. – Franklin Delano Roosevelt He was talking about Ted Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. NameFrank Deery

    As a Republican, I think Cruz and other Tea
    Party need to shut up about internal issues
    Within the GOP, and focus on Obama's disasterous second term, including Health Care and his isolationist Foreign Policy, which is spawning a rebirth of al Qaeda and
    Putin's resurgence of the USSR! While Obama golfs, fundraises, and changes law-at his whim. That is why 2014, not the Tea Party, Is crucial.

    Cruz, et al, if you don't like the current GOP
    leaders, go for a third party-and good luck. It
    never works. Otherwise, get out of the way!
    We can win in 2014 on HC alone, but your antics and ambition make it real hard, even with a Lousey President, and he is inept!

    February 20, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. muri

    He'd be potentially useful to the party if it weren't for the level of smug coming off this guy. If this were a nation of one mindset, one need, one vision – then I think the approach Mr. Cruz employs is sound. However, it is not that country and overly simplified strategies based solely in team-based political rhetoric does not solve the problems.

    If you are a party of small government then drop the social issue straw grabbing, if you are fiscally conservative then run your elections as such, and if you are looking for more constituents then drop the ivory tower routine.

    Nobody is asking you to utterly debase the platform as much as we are asking to get the party back that does what it says it is going to do.

    February 20, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Realityblowz

    DH "Not one peep"? You are wrong. Yes... There were plenty of us that hated the war that W got us into with the green light from the Congressional Democrats. We also were speaking against the increasing debt at that time. We are called Libertarians.

    February 20, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  20. wasjustthinking

    People like Cruz is a reason why a lot of people do not like Wasington

    February 20, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. Michael

    Ted Cruz is STILL Canadian.

    The United States is about to face Canada in Olympic Hockey.

    Therefore, Ted Cruz is AGAINST America!

    Just sayin.....because...'Murica.

    February 20, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. LessDemLessRepub

    For those of you who think Cruz is a crazy, arrogant, corrupt, right winger, etc..........I guess you think our current Congress/Government is operating just fine then?

    February 20, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Sandra

    The Tea Party isn't the only thing wrong with the Republicans. Their position (pardon the pun) on women, race relations and immigration, and their total unwillingness to offer a single thing on healthcare will do them in.... once again.

    February 20, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. chancestephens

    Wonderful and precisely on-point answers to every question asked. I was not much of a fan of Cruz before reading this article, but certainly am now. Notice that he will answer every question, rather than evade and look for political cover. That's what a REAL leader should do.

    February 20, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. hottpoker

    Everything that's beeng said about this guy is true, and then some. Republicans are paying, and will keep paying dearly with moderate and common sense voters as long as they keep this kind of people on their ranks.
    Having said that Cruz, Paul, Gohmert, etc and other teaparty extremists are their ( leaders ) creation. Their leaders( Mitch, John B, etc) are the onest that felt catering to this kind of candidates insured their hold on some districts or states. And it might be true, but a what cost..

    February 20, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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