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. Tony in Maine

    Eliminate all federal funds that go to Texas and buy billboards telling voters to thank Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  2. navaJohn

    How much longer does the country have to put up with this reckless self-centered showoff from Texas? After Bush I don't know anyone who wants to hear Texan opinions, especially not Tea Party activists.

    February 20, 2014 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  3. Skip

    Ted Cruz is one real dangerous fanatic.

    February 20, 2014 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  4. Doug

    "And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.” - See I thought the 13 percent rating had to do with this being the least productive congress in the history of our country and they don't know the meaning of the word compromise if it smacked them in the face with a tennis racket.....but that's just my guess.

    February 20, 2014 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  5. Marie MD

    We don't need you in the US.

    February 20, 2014 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  6. Bert

    Ted Cruz, talk about a "show voter". Say Ted, how's the renunciation of the Canadian citizenship going? You know, the process that takes one hour to complete the paperwork and a hundred bucks?
    It seems your colleagues voted the way their constituents wanted thus maybe raising their approval rating for once! What a concept, do what your voters expect you to do, compromise and actually get something done! Instead of wasting taxpayers money everytime YOU open your mouth! Come clean Teddy, how much does each filibuster cost? And oh yah, there's that "little" matter of $24 BILLION as well.
    You are nothing but a snake oil salesman!

    February 20, 2014 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  7. MightyMoo

    If only people had went with pragmatism over purity to begin with we wouldn't have had a downgrade of the nations credit rating and actually had more progress than what we actually had. Ah well.

    February 20, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  8. ilene shane

    Ted Cruz is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.

    February 20, 2014 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  9. jonneal156@comcast.net

    I try not to follow nor understand the congressional infighting but I believe the real issue is over spending... and try to not pay the bills after you have spend the money is not the way people solve this.. both side have good intentions but neither side has attacked the root of the problem and this just prolongs the issue... get down to brass tax...

    February 20, 2014 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  10. CCFCCP

    Cruz is to Texas what Steve King is to Iowa......an embarrassment, classless, totally out of touch and a french fry short of a happy meal.

    February 20, 2014 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  11. Greg Morgan

    Breaking news: Republican leaders do something that make sense; Cruz is outraged.

    February 20, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  12. rude

    If only the Repubs were fiscal conservative when they are in power. But nope, trillion dollar wars and billions in tax breaks for the wealthy.

    February 20, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  13. Joe

    "And listen, that sort of show vote, that sort of trickery to the constituents is why Congress has a 13 percent approval rating.”

    I wonder what Congress' approval rating would have been if the government had defaulted?

    February 20, 2014 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Ted is just doing what the domestic terrorists that make up the bagger party elected him to do: shutdown government to the tune of 24 billion dollars, make the US default on our debt, downgrade our credit rating, and other acts that even Al Qaeda could not achieve. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would think that this is an attempt to allow billionaires to run our government, instead of elected officials.

    February 20, 2014 07:04 am at 7:04 am |

    There he is GOP – your presidential nominee in 2016. If so then Hillary will win with OVER 400 electoral votes. Please nominate him – puleeeeeaaaaazzzzzeeeee!!!!!

    February 20, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  16. George

    I wish the news media would get it right. Sen. Cruz is not from Texas. He's from Canada. It should read Sen. Cruz R-Canada. Texas may be proud of its legacy, but they elected a foreigner to represent them in Congress

    February 20, 2014 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  17. I R Amazed

    "Cruz Slams GOP Heads": A headline/link like that brings up so many positive images of what I think many on the left would love to do. Slam GOP heads. Of course, one of the first heads we'd want to see slammed is Ted Cruz' head. Followed by that disgusting draft dodging, underage girl nailing psuedo "patriot" Ted Nugent.

    February 20, 2014 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  18. Lone wolf

    A true nut case!

    February 20, 2014 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  19. Desel

    Mr. Cruz, your BIRTH CERTIFICATE states that you were born in Calgary , Canada. Why don't you go back there. You do not care about what is in the best interest of the United States. You only care about Ted Cruz.

    February 20, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  20. S. B. Stein

    He clearly doesn't understand what is going on. If I was really a person focused on conspiracies, I would think that he is a plant from either Cuba or Russians that were a part of the Soviet Union that still want the US to fall even though the Soviet Union is gone (like those agents in the movie Salt).

    Cruz is too much a purist to really be helpful or functional in Congress. I don't think he can see that because he only sees the situation through his ideology. It appears that he would rather have the full faith and credit of the US come crashing down than appear to help the president.

    February 20, 2014 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  21. veep

    Mr. Cruz loves throwing people under the bus.

    February 20, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  22. texasbob

    well, well Canuck. aren't you calling the kettle black. you haven't been entirely transparent in all of your dealings with the people of Texas.

    February 20, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  23. snowdogg

    "the first-term Republican senator from Texas blamed Republicans for caving in to President Barack Obama and Democrats on raising the debt ceiling."

    Sure, Ted, the vast majority of Americans want to see the USA at the brink of default again.

    February 20, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  24. ummm....

    So it is simply about not getting thrown under the bus? How about legislating and working, rather than just worrying about covering your rear end. This guy is doing more damage to the Republican party in one term than Palin Nixon and Bauchman combined over their lifespan.

    February 20, 2014 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  25. Butchohare

    Ted, just out of curiousity, do you think Congress' 13 percent approval rating has anything to do specifically with you?

    February 20, 2014 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
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