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
Pity Canadian Born Cuban Cruz isnt thrown under da bus
we need a guy like this i am tried of all the rest they play with us at least Ted is bold enough to butt heads for what he believes all u could hear from Democrats was the debt now they love it i think that is being a hypocrite they say what they need to at that time
Cruz, please join your cousin in Alaska. You two deserve each other, and the country doesn't deserve either of you. And I don't mean that in a nice way.
Pathetic, headline grabbing losers.
Truly the Joseph McCarthy of our times. Equally misguided.
Why don't you go home to your BIRTH country Mr. Cruz and leave the "true" American's alone.
Ted Cruz and his GOP buddies are nothing but BULLIES! With so much said to identify Bullying behavior nowadays, it's scary how much it's being tolerated.
He does have a point........
What is with this Cruz guy? He's a FRESHMAN senator for Pete's sake! He walks and talks like he's the cock of the walk, paying no heed or respect to those that have been in their office for great lengths of time, those who have established themselves and built a base. He just comes in like the new dude in the office that wants to change everything. At first you tollerate him but eventually you get tired of him and ultimately he can either tone it down or get fired. I'm hoping this one gets fired.
"And if 45 Republicans had stood together, nobody gets thrown under the bus." except for the majority of the American People, which Cruz apparently still mistakenly thinks he is has the right to dictate policy for.
cruz is a petulant obstructionist. i hope his voters back home realize this and send him back to the hole he crawled out of.
The reason why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating is because of idiots like Cruz!
Cruz – what a know-nothing dork.
So the good of the ( tea party ) over rides the good of the many ( citizens ) The problem with the baggers are if you don't vote for them than you do not exist – there job is to help only those that hold the same view as them
Now how about you go back to Cuba and change things there
Don't worry Teddy, you will be gone soon enough.
CNN: please give the American people the names of the Republicans who voted to break the filibuster. That information is missing from this report.
Cruz is a little Nazi. Unless everyone does what he thinks is right, they are somehow inferior or wrong – just like a Nazi.
We are talking about Washington and politicians. No one really expect honesty and integrity. We the people won't allow it
No Ted, the GOP leadership realizes that the debt ceiling is a strawman as it has nothing to do with controlling spending, and that the downside of not "raising" it has real consequences to the good faith and credit of the US overall. The core issue is the lack of a coherent budget process to prioritize spending and spending levels in the first place. Of course, that would mean actually WORKING rather than GRANDSTANDING every day.
send him back to canada already
I consider myself a conservative and think we need to reduce the debt. But the debt ceiling is not the problem. The problem is controlling the spending in the first place. Not raising the debt ceiling is like us as an individual writing a check and then asking the bank not to honor it. If you want to cut the debt, stop adding to it every year in the budget process!!! That's where you spend your political capital. The debt ceiling is a paper tiger. Have some moxie and refuse to approve budgets that exceed reveneue. In fact, if you want to reduce the deficit, make the budgets come in below revneues!
He just doesn't get it. Thirty per cent cannot dominate seventy per cent. Tea Partyism is dead.
Between this tool, and Mr. Nugent, people are starting to wonder about Texas. Raphael, I believe you hold more responsibility for the dismal approval rating. Your state needs an good flushing, fleet is a good brand.
Poor Texas Teddie the Koch Bros have paid yo well to create anarchy and you were unable to do it. Whine and cry.
Well the GOP nut job circus that we had during the last election debates is off to a rip roaring early start!
Keep up the good fight Mr. Cruz, America needs you.