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. Roger

    If every senator wants to represent his and his constituents only and not the country's interests, than their votes and influence of their voles should be limited to decided based on % share of taxes each of those states they come from and their vote should not be limiting in any way other states (voters) rights to spend / borrow. These people are voted by their respective constituents to represent the country and not just their local interests. The local elections representatives are for deciding local interests. I think all of these people have skewed view on what their true role is and why they are getting elected, based on their political ambitions and what makes it easy for them to win next election, than what is right for the country both in short-term (as we get thru recession) and when is it right to start tightening belts as we progressively move out of recession.

    February 20, 2014 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  2. robert earnest

    This guy will break the republican party into several politically weak factions and guarantee democrat control of the white house for years to come.

    February 20, 2014 08:05 am at 8:05 am |

    Canadian Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas leading the charge with a 21-hour chat fest on the Senate floor””
    The federal government shutdown that lasted for 16 days last month is expected to cost the U.S. economy between $2 billion and $6 billion in economic output

    where is a provisions to cut benefits/ services and lifetime health coverage, salaries for Politicians

    the politicians are too dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it - that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. (They vote on their own raises, healthcare, and pension plans, and we are left with the bill. ,Members of Congress sleeping in the office are thus playing on the edge to eek out even more compensation from the taxpayer. They convert use of a space - that we have paid for - intended for work into living space as they avoid rent) AS we know, the money hungry Congress men and women have taken millions from the Koch, et.al., and that really is what drives their positions, not the interests of the American people

    February 20, 2014 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  4. zelskid

    Cruz will offer the country a clear choice in 2016

    February 20, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  5. Richard

    Right, just throw the a American people under the bus!

    February 20, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  6. M

    Maybe the GOP leadership should slam Ted Cruz's head right back and kick him out the Repub party caucus and tell him to find another

    February 20, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  7. reed20fence

    His politics are wrong but his honesty is admirable, I guess.

    February 20, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  8. caseyhd

    Cruz is still the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party. This continued childish infighting does not play well with voters.

    February 20, 2014 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  9. Raven

    The only people who would be thrown under the bus if your plan had worked, Mr. Cruz, are the American people!

    February 20, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  10. woodie

    The weird thing about republican's is they say they want to reduce government cost but they do everything to increase it.

    February 20, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  11. taxman

    Congress has a 13% approval ratings because of the games and antics of the whackos such as Cruz. No wonder Canadians are distancing themselves from him. He is hell bent on destroying the GOP from within. There is only so much gerrymandering and voter suppression can achieve in the long run. With the GOP playing those cards early, they will invite voter backlash no matter how much they continue to cut education spending trying to keep America dumb.

    February 20, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  12. jonquil123

    "Honest with our constituents", Cruz? Honesty would mean explaining to those constituents, that raising the debt ceiling has nothing to do with new spending, so a "show vote" was the most decent thing their representatives could do; no pointless default and they still make the point that they didn't like what we've already spent our money on. Cruz is a legislative illiterate and an amateur, extraordinaire. "Statesman" is the furthest way to describe this half-rate, huckster.

    February 20, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  13. Harold

    lets face it Washington is corrupt like never before-ALL the DEMOCRATs are on the take and half the REPUBLICANs- shame on the REPUBLICANs for allowing Obama to continue his mindless spending spree-and shame on the DEMOCRATs for blindly supporting their party when it is not in the best interest of the USA- the DEMOCRATs vote in a solid block-which shows that somebody is controlling them- you mean not even one DEMOCRAT wants to stop spending?

    February 20, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  14. icu

    why does anyone cares about what that Canadian do. Why is he not going back to Canada where he belong.

    February 20, 2014 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. Orm

    This guy is the poster child for just about everything that's wrong with Congress.

    February 20, 2014 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  16. Gurnicus Blanstonius

    So, basically...Cruz will 'fight to the death' to show his voters he will 'fight to the death', even if it takes us all down. Great.

    February 20, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  17. Aim

    It is sick that a jerk like this was ever voted into office. God help us.

    February 20, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  18. DENNA

    Has this man had a stroke? Look at his face, especially his eyes. He is not a well man. He is not well, so of course he is a rising star in the Republican party. Why can't the Republicans act like normal human beings? Why do they hate so much? The poor, immigrants, minorities, women. You name it and they hate it.

    February 20, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. salty dog

    And after seeing all the horror, and mass economical hardships because of it, well they both said they would do it all again: and I believe them .

    February 20, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. PtBarnumBoy

    A Jim Jones wannabe.

    February 20, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. salty dog

    And listen to McCain, he thinks we should occupy Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, where does it end?

    February 20, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  22. MattInJax

    Pot, meet kettle.

    February 20, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  23. sby1977

    Both Parties are completely owned by the Federal Reserve, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, CFR, etc...
    Bush, Cheney, Graham, McCain, Christie = Obama, Clinton, Reid and Pelosi

    They will all smear libertarians and the Tea party and the IRS is ready to help protect their overlords at the corrupt privately owned Fed. It's amazing to think that the greatest nation on Earth privatized it's treasury in 1913 by contracting monetary management to a privately owned bank with a misleading name.

    Ron Paul won Iowa in 2012, but the Rep Party lied and the liberal media was their to help in the cover-up.

    Most people don't notice or seem to care. It looks like the pseudo-intellectual MSM, GMO, fluoride, liberal tv, government education and big pharma have worked together very well to lobotomize the American public.

    February 20, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  24. ElvisvsJLX

    I emailed Cruz's office telling him he should just sit down and shut up, and received a reply from a staffer that I cannot repeat here. Now the war is on. I'll be taking out a full page ad in a Texas newspaper that will say it for me: Cruz, go away and die.

    February 20, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  25. salty dog

    Wage war in four or more countries at the same time, sounds a bit different than the image he wants the world to see, we're peace makers right?

    February 20, 2014 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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