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. Nonname

    Cruz is playing chicken with the world economy by pretending a default is a sane option. Please no one pretend you can use something as a bargaining chip without actually placing it in jeopardy... completely nonsensical argument.

    He is the only one playing political games because us defaulting risks a worldwide credit freeze... I try to hang on to the notion he is not actually that dumb.

    February 20, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. The Center

    Ted Cruz has the ambition to reach for an office that will always remain unattainable to him. His tactics, his rhetoric and his naked ambition make him unsavory to most americans. I personally get a nasty whiff of something whenever I hear him whine. When will this political clown get off the stage?

    February 20, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Uncle Sam

    Politicians, please tell us again, how we should look at things.

    February 20, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    Republicans will be clobbered in the polls, because the GOP has insulted every single voter in America! Their war on Women, on the Poor, on the Elderly, on the LGTB community, on every single Minority, on Education, on Union Workers, on Americans in general!

    The latest poll show 19% .......approve of the GOP! 19%!

    February 20, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. skarphace

    Cruz: "Climate change, as they've defined it, can never be disproved.”

    Clearly Cruz is unclear on the concept. If there were no evidence for the theory, it would not be accepted by the scientific community, especially not in the high numbers that it currently is (around 95%, I believe). You know, like how the "theory of creation" is not accepted by the scientific community because there is no evidence for the theory?

    February 20, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Zahdio

    This fellow is too self indulgent to be a leader. He is not to be trusted.

    February 20, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |

    HILARIOUS watching Guns Over People tea potty wingnuts eat each other as they walk the plank toward another November.

    February 20, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. bubba

    Sung to a Weird Al song:

    Oh, Teddy, you're so fine. You're so fine.
    We love to hear you whine!

    February 20, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Mary

    Why does CNN give this guy so much air time? This is not news – it is campaigning....

    February 20, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Doc

    Ted Cruz = LOL

    February 20, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Mateo

    "This fellow is too self indulgent to be a leader. He is not to be trusted." I second that.

    February 20, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. VEW2012

    The problem is Mr. Cruz and the Teapitty clowns. Paying our debts after we have purchased an item is standard practice. Not paying our debts after the items has been purchased is being a deadbeat. Mr. Cruz is for all of us being deadbeats.

    February 20, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    “He [Ted Nugent] 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."

    The only gun-related legislation passed by the Obama administration during his first term was to expand gun rights and allow concealed weapons to be carried in National Parks (which, personally, I think is a dumb idea).

    President Obama proposed gun legislation following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, legislation calling for universal background checks, which a majority of Americans – including repubs – supported.

    But the NRA-controlled Senate repubs blocked it from ever coming up for a vote.

    The hostile party in this scenario are the repubs who continue to thwart the will of the American people, put party before country, and put their allegiance to the NRA, Koch brothers, Norquist, Rove and other narrow special interest groups ahead of our nation.

    February 20, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. Ken

    Wrong...he is NOT a human being. I think that has been established. He is from the family Trollis Reptillus and while technically his species resembles many human charachteristics this is an evolved defense response to warn off predators. If given the chance middle class Americans will be culled as food source by Trollis Reptillus because while they are vertabrates they are in fact Political carnivores

    February 20, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Name

    Obama is a real joke but the jokes on the american people.

    February 20, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Mr Dalloway

    I see the senate boob is at it once again

    February 20, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    As Cruz stated, Congress has an approval rating of 13% (up from a historical low of 9% last fall). It's a pretty easy problem to fix, though:

    Repub/tea bags hold a majority in the House; repubs in the Senate have filibustered more than any Senate in our history.

    Get rid of these two groups, they'll actually get something done, and the approval rating will rise.


    February 20, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. skarphace

    tom l: "Reading these comments makes it apparent that racism is alive and well with liberals."

    You are reading too much into the "Cruz birther" comments. It really has nothing to do with the fact that Cruz is part Cuban. It has to do with the fact that Cruz was not born in the United States and therefore is not qualified to run for POTUS. This argument has to do with the Consti tution, not Cuban Hispanics in general.

    On the other hand, the "Obama birther" comments had everything to do with race. Unlike Cruz, Obama was born in the United States. The only reason to claim that Obama was not qualified to be POTUS was because his father was black. You are looking so hard for racism that you can't even see it in your own reflection.

    February 20, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @Zahdio: "This fellow is too self indulgent to be a leader. He is not to be trusted."

    And he always looks like his lying, what with that little smirk of his.

    February 20, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. notagopfan

    McCain was right. Cruz IS a wacko bird.

    February 20, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. ironman59

    What we are tired of is clowns like cruz. His last round where he wasted 20+ hours of the senates time only to vote for what he talked against the entire time. It is all of this posuturing wihout attempting to address the issues of the country that we are tired of seeing daily.

    February 20, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Fire the GOP

    It's funny...it's the TEA Partiers who SPENT the money. And now that the debt ceiling has to be raised to pay for THEIR spending, they don't want to pay for it.

    Cruz – here's a bit of fact for you. Alaska's GOP Reps requested funding to build a bridge to nowhere. The governor at the time could have decided not to spend that money....but she did anwyay. And do you know who that governor was? TEA Partier was? It was SARAH PALIN. The bill has to be paid by raising the debt ceiling or we risk another credit downgrade.

    February 20, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Bill from GA

    Ted, the Dems love what you are doing.

    Divide and Conquer. You Divide, the Dems will Conquer!!

    February 20, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. libturds

    Ted Nugent got it right....

    February 20, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    I don't even know where to begin in describing Cruz. Scary – very scary that someone like him can get elected

    February 20, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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