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. Common Sense

    I am as conservative as they come, but even I am tired of listening to Cruz talk......We will not get back the majorities in congress we need so long as partisans like Cruz keep influencing their comrades......It is not looking good at all for democrats in both houses right now, not at all. In fact, I would not be surprised if the senate attains a veto-free majority.....People are ticked right now, and the blame is going to the dems.....All the conservatives and republicans have to do between now and November is appear to throw a few political bones to the dems and the chump in the white house so as to appear to be in harmony.....Then the Wednesday after the mid-term elections, the house AND Senate members can all chip in to purchase a 800 day all-you-can-golf package for the chump, cause that is all he will be good for the remainder of his sorry term.......he may as well enjoy the links......

    February 20, 2014 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Fish

    Apparently there is no leadership in the party, during the Reagan years I'm certain he would have been severely admonished if not discarded from the party. I knew the party was dead during the Iraq debacle when they completely ignored if not insulted James Baker, Ronnie's right hand man!!! The party is gutless and without principles and needs to be disbanded unless they regain some type of integrity!!! An get rid of that Whiner Priebus as I have old clothing with more integrity than him!!!

    February 20, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Billy Goat

    Az a fellow Texan, Cruz is an embarrassment. I'm a fiscal conservative, but this guy is either nuts or is engaged in a trickery worse than that he accuses others of committing.

    February 20, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Adam Smith

    Oh, this is good. Mark my word, come 2016, this guy is going to run for the president.

    February 20, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. skarphace

    Concerned: "Do you people actually WANT change or is it all lip service like our leadership gives us?"

    Don't you get it? Change cannot occur if Congress does nothing but shut down the government. If Congress merely filibusters every single vote, then stagnation would occur, not change.

    February 20, 2014 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. nonyabizz

    Teddibuster strikes again...

    February 20, 2014 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. UNcommon Sense

    its not 1776 anymore T-billies ...it's time for a new game plan ... why not learn to relax that sphincter, no one wants entrance to your empire of dirt.

    February 20, 2014 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    @Sniffit: ""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."

    WRONG. Cruz is eligible.

    My understanding from everything I've read is that because Ted Cruz was born in Canada of just one parent with U.S. citizenship (his dad became a citizen in 2005), he is NOT eligible to be POTUS.

    Heck, has Teddy Cruz even filed the naturalization papers yet?

    February 20, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Because your in it you GOP teahage MORON, good luck keeping the house in November , Cruz, enemy # one is going to drag the whole GOP house down even though he's in the senate but won't be after his first term. This GOP teaparty loser flexes old ladies for money and should be deported along with his FAKE pastor father, where's your papers you GOP moron???????

    February 20, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Bob

    Cruz is another democrat secret weapon to guarantee a republican will not become president.

    February 20, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. northerstar

    Cruz may be the Love of Texas' local Tea Party but he has no hope of winning national office (President) or getting the GOP nomination. He is apparently a great debater & smart. However, he has to convince people to vote for him and he has proven to be too convinced that his way is the only "right" way and no co-operation or compromise is possible. What he forgets is that politics requires some of both. The hero of the GOP, Ronald Reagan was able to get a great deal of legislation through the Dem. controlled Congress with both the "co-operation" and "compromise" with the famous Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neal. Cruz is just going to suck up campaign money from whoever the GOP decides to run. Voters outside Texas will never endorse Cruz especially after the Government Shutdown.

    February 20, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. lynn

    Some of you posters claim Cruz will be President one day. Explain that again, how can someone born in Canada, not an American territory as the Panama Canal when McCain was born, even be considered an American by birth and qualified to be President? He has the same heritage as Obama, only difference is Obama is half black and Cruz is half Cuban.

    February 20, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "My understanding from everything I've read is that because Ted Cruz was born in Canada of just one parent with U.S. citizenship (his dad became a citizen in 2005), he is NOT eligible to be POTUS. "

    Your understanding is wrong. Read more.

    February 20, 2014 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. stuman

    You know your a red neck when you call yourself a Texas republican. Anti everything except what they can take from tax payers. Enjoy your armadillo dirt farm down there yee haa

    February 20, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. Gurgyl

    This is a real idiot needs deportation orders.

    February 20, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. elizarest

    Dana, please ask each Senator that voted yes and then no why the dishonesty?

    February 20, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. RockInD

    He did say he works for 26 Million Texans, but does he realize that over 40% of those oppose everything he has done.

    February 20, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. elizarest

    Senator Cruz's actions demonstrated who is honest and who is not. We should be thanking him. Now, were are the watchdog reporters to call them on it?

    February 20, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Ctrygrl

    This man is so full of it, this isn't even funny. He would throw his own grandmother under the bus if he thought it would further his quest for power. He is practicing being a zealot and zealots can inflame, inspire and at times succeed but they cannot govern.

    February 20, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. barb'sbarb

    Pot calling the kettle black. I wish the P -ee -party as I call the Tea Party would go flush drown the toilet.

    February 20, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |

    Bottom line, there's no more checks and balances with the debt ceiling. I'm sure democrats will whine when a republican is back in.

    February 20, 2014 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  22. brian

    Cruz has the ego of a two year old child.

    February 20, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. hellsyeahs

    CRUZ 2016!!!

    -signed the DNC :O

    February 20, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. Vicki

    When they took the vote to keep our country from going into default they allowed the votes not to be acknowledged aloud. That was so that republicans who have been against everything stood up and did not allow the country to default. What is pathetic is that so many republicans are against the government. If the tea party became aware of the vote they would blame republicans for doing what is right. Obviously there are too many irresponsible republicans in this country who thought it would be great if we did not save the country from default. The full faith of our government is critical and that means paying the bills we have acquired.

    February 20, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Nameange

    Cruz is the reason I switched to the left

    February 20, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
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