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. Michael Marshall

    Continuing to raise the Debt Ceiling is insanity. We already have way too much debt(over 100% of GDP currently). If we don't stop raising the Debt Ceiling and cut spending then it will just be worse later on. Americans grocery bills are a clear example of this insanity. I admire Ted Cruz for having the courage to stand up to this reckless spending when most politicians prefer to take the easy way out.

    February 20, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  2. fuzzback

    Slam away, Ted. Democrats are loving it.

    February 20, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  3. greenaxe

    This man will single handedly take down the already splintered GOP as we know it. By 2016, the Dems will be looking pretty good as a result of this mans actions.

    February 20, 2014 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  4. Bobpitt

    Ted should understand is the dog that wags the tail... not the other way around....

    February 20, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  5. Tarzan

    Wow, it astounds me how out of touch and paranoid Cruz sounds. He has learned nothing about why the GOP lost the last election. I wouldn't expect anything less from a Texas politician.

    February 20, 2014 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    "I think all 45 Republicans should have stood together and said, of course not."
    This is the sort of irresponsibility that can cause the country to default. It goes to show that Rafael and his Teahadists buddies are trying to destroy the country. Send Rafael back to Canada along with Bieber.

    February 20, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  7. alex

    where was the interview with Ted Cruz done at? Looks like a old texas saloon recreation

    February 20, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. resident

    What Cruz and others of his ilk convieniently forget is that the current spending authorization bills pay for current and past debts. They want to be deadbeats with someone else's money and think that by blowing the debts off they can somehow return America to the "good old Little House on the Prairie" days.

    February 20, 2014 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  9. king

    i guest folks like cruise wont be satisfied until all the money is lumped up in 1 little area, and leave the vast american landscape without no money. i wonder where those 1 per centers will invest their money then. i guest china will be taking over our first place sooner than i thought. hey when is fox news is going to hire a dem to host over their for a half an hour. how gullible can people be to keep watching this one sided news station who is so terrified to have a different opinion they are willing to risk legitimate news programming. msnbc has a republican host for three hours every weekday morning. wht is fox so terrified of.

    February 20, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  10. Zon

    More games from the clown from Texas.

    February 20, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  11. All Seing Eye

    How is it possible to try to become the President of USA by pandering to voters in your own district only? What in the hell they mean by "conservative purity" and "severely conservative"? United State is not a district, ...it is a Nation! What is it that the hard line republicans don't understand?

    February 20, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  12. Mark

    Senator Cruz- how about actually cutting expenses vs. just refusing to pay the bills? Talk about a 'show vote'. If I applied your approach to cut household spending , I have a feeling Wells Fargo, Comcast, AT&T, etc would not take kindly to it.

    February 20, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  13. Stagger Lee

    Mr. Cruz fails to acknowledge that the singular reason the USA's credit rating was lowered for the first time in history was the tea party's influence on delaying the vote on the ceiling at that time while our creditors watched on TV. The debt ceiling has to be raised to meet current obligations, not to provide for taking on new obligations. That is the part guys like Cruz will not even engage in a discussion about on record because it would confuse his base.
    Actually, I think I'm not going to raise my personal debt ceiling this year to send the same message. You hear that bank? Mortgage co?

    February 20, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  14. T. Lee

    Of course Mr. Cruz never TALKS about the FACT – that much of the out of control spending STARTED during Ronnie Reagan's term in office. That doesn't excuse it being continued by both Democrats AND Republicans when THEY get into office (or back into office) but it does speak to the issue that BOTH parties are to blame to varying degrees of the US continuing to be in red ink.

    ...and all the 'cutting efforts' and ranting and raving about 'entitlement programs'?? Why is it that virtually EVERY time cuts are proposed they are proposed AGAINST those who are least able to sustain reductions in what they have earned (such as our seniors)???

    How about the 'belt-tightening' begin with elected officials – and once THEY get the idea of what that takes and what that's like – THEN work on common sense solutions/approaches to cutting US debt. It's an old old saying: "When elected officials discover they can vote to raise their own income and/or vote in benefits for those who elect them – the country is ultimately doomed financially" (yeah, I know, I took some liberties with that but it's still the truth!)

    February 20, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  15. Pete

    Please please run. You're a gift to the opposition.

    February 20, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  16. TomInRochNY

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

    You're right, Ted, it's that type of screwy thing called debating legislation and voting on it that really ticks off constituants. I think you need to retake groverning 101.

    February 20, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  17. CoolBlue

    I do not like nor agree with Cruz, however, he does appear to have a point here. Republicans have turned into hypocritical cowards, they only seem to care about power and could care less about moving this country forward.

    February 20, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  18. ChrisM

    So now Ted "McCarthy" Cruz has alienated Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Bye Bye Curz

    February 20, 2014 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  19. D.K.- BK

    For me, Ted Cruz's motives and policy positions usually don't make a lot of sense. His vision for the US often seems to be one where a debt default would lead to wide-spread joblessness and poverty and an absence of regulation would cut down every tree, and so pollute the air and water that ever citizen would be sick with illnesses that they have no insurance to treat.

    However, transparency and asking legislators to vote in accordance with their actual intentions is a reasonable-ish thing.

    February 20, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  20. Ferris

    What your fellow Republicans did was take a look at reality, and the consequenses of allowing this nation to fall into default. They voted for the better of two poor options. Yes, we need to get our spending under control, but your "nuclear option" of completely wrecking an already fragile economy is wreckless and and immature. Start working for what is best for the country and not your selfish agenda.

    February 20, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  21. jb1963

    Too bad this fool does not know who the debt ceiling works. It is something that needs to be abolished
    You know how many republicans default on their debt? All of them. They take money from their constituents and never pay them back.

    February 20, 2014 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  22. CoolBlue

    I do not like, nor agree with Cruz, however, he does appear to have a point here. Republicans have turned into hypocritical cowards, they only seem to care about power and could care less about moving this country forward. Cruz is a perfect example of this.

    February 20, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  23. Kiefer'sNewAssistant

    Ladies and Gentlemen, he who is Delusion, has spoken.

    February 20, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  24. Jack

    Oh, do you guys every have a problem!

    February 20, 2014 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  25. aztec3

    This is why we should be very afraid of the Tea Party types; we don't need more "fringe-makers".

    February 20, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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