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. Senior

    So much for compromise. And the USA in default is a good thing???

    February 20, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  2. ELMO

    As much as I can't stand Ted Cruz I have to give him one acknowledgment. He is an Independent politician and does exactly what he says he is going to do. Ted don't play politics nor does he care about committee appointment's. He has giant testis for a Canadian.

    February 20, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  3. Rob

    The GOP have a 13 percent approval rating because of right wing extremists like Cruz. He would rather default on debt and risk the entire worlds economy to satisfy his self serving ideology.

    February 20, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    "I mean the funny thing is, what I told the voters of Texas, I guarantee you, all 45 of those Republican senators tell the voters of their states the same thing, which is they're going to lead the fight to stop the spending, to stop the debt," he [Cruz] said.
    Stop the spending?
    Someone needs to tell Cruz that the money has already been legislated to be spent.
    Someone needs to tell Cruz that Republicans wrote the spending bill.
    Someone needs to tell Cruz to shut up and propose a budget that is more to his liking.

    February 20, 2014 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  5. Disillusioned

    Tea party should officially become independent party. Media likes to portray them as complete nutjobs, but some of their idiological ideas have some merit but can't run govt with all the my way or the highway mandates. No compromise equals no effectiveness.

    February 20, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  6. salty dog

    And talking to an aquatint, out of the army two years now, referred to it as " burger king with guns" .

    February 20, 2014 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  7. Norma Vessels

    Well, Mr Cruz, you may not say you're hurting your fellow Republicans in the House, but you know you are. What are you after, Mr Cruz, besides the fall of our Government? What is it that makes you go out of your way to make the rest of the Republicans, which you are one of, so mad at you? Why? Is it your way of bringing down the structure of Congress? If you succeed, then what is your next plan .. eliminate the need for a President? What then, go after the Supreme Court? After that, Mr Cruz? Go back to Mexico and gloat about how it only took you a few years to bring
    down the United States of America, with a little bit of help from your Tea Party?

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

    Thank you Mr Cruz. Thanks for making sure your party has little to no chance of gaining the office of the Presidency in 2016. Thank you for splitting your party and fostering the in-fighting among your members. Thank you for showcasing exactly what happens when a member of congress tows the tea party line and what that would mean.

    February 20, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  9. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    This could be the year of clown pants and big shoes. God knows we've cultivated enough talent in the political arena, to cover all aspects of merriment and mirth. Every time the news comes on we get to see the crop of idiots auditioning.

    February 20, 2014 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. Willllburrrr

    TX needs to wake up and ditch this goofball. Or at least make him pay the 24 billion it cost to shut down the govt recently.

    February 20, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  11. ConcernedCitizenVoter

    Nice work, Rafael Cruz, keep tearing the GOP to shreds and making way for democrats to breeze through the next election!

    Maybe you should go back to your Cuban homeland and try politics there!

    February 20, 2014 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  12. J25

    Ted Cruz is the Republican, obstructionist, show voting, establishment.

    February 20, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  13. the horror of it all....

    The man is a cancer... His father was a Cuban national who fought for Castro–Cruz accepted affirmative action to get into Princeton... he accepted Government funds to pay for college ( even though he was BORN in Canada)... He married an executive from Goldman Sachs... his fathers evangelical parish annointed him the Messiah at age 6 .... OPEN UP YOUR EYES, people...this guy is totally full of bull...they have interviewed dozens of students who attended university with him-they all say the same thing-TOTAL jerk with a really NASTY agenda.. watch out folks–this guy is NOT about America.....

    February 20, 2014 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. DCKeene

    Why does this (insert curse word here) want to destroy our economy? Every single report that comes out says if we don't raise the ceiling, will cause another recession. Please go back to Canada before you destroy our economy.

    February 20, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  15. Bill

    Cruz has a lot of nerve slamming our GOP Leadership in the Senate or House of Rpresentatives on anything. Of course most of us think of him as a radical nut in company with Bachmann, Pelosi, and Reed. Our company works as a team and when we make a decision even if we all don't agree, we don't slam our leadership. IU think it is great the God created Cruz who is all knowing and can be the only person with all the right answers, after all, he has so much experience in the Senate of passing great bills and being a part of anything besides his critical behavior of everything and slowing down processes to get anything done. He needs a muzzle if you ask me.

    February 20, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  16. David Rutledge

    TC is a freak, one for the record books.

    February 20, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  17. Charles

    This guy is dangerous.

    February 20, 2014 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  18. GREG

    I always thought Republicans, at least the ones I know, didn't like attorneys calling them slimy, sneaky and smarmy just like the way Ted Cruz is acting. He thinks he is being clever and he may be able to pull the blinds over those in Texas but that just doesn't work everywhere else. He will be the demise of that party.

    February 20, 2014 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  19. Boo

    "Standing up to principle"??????!!!!! None of these parasites have any principles. All they care about is more power and making more money.

    February 20, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. jesse

    If I were a betting man, I'd say Ted Cruz will be a one-term senator, I believe what he's doing is called "biting the hand that feeds you." For all of his supposed "intelligence," he's really quite self-destructive.

    February 20, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. Antman

    No, congress has a 13% approval rating because NONE OF YOU CAN DO YOUR JOB!! How about getting along? Your constant bickering makes every single one of you look like idiots. Your failure to pass any law at all makes your approval rating go down. You lack of work ethics makes it go down. Your grandstanding makes it go down. Its all of you America is disgusted by. You act like children in a sandbox. Time to grow up and do the job you were elected for.

    February 20, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. Michael

    Cruz is a smarmy, self-aggrandizing windbag of a demagogue - i.e., the true face of the GOP.

    February 20, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  23. Common Sense

    Wanting to let the democratic process of voting happen as it should is not the same thing as a yes or no vote. Some folks have to make everyone look wrong to make themselves look right.

    February 20, 2014 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  24. "Smooch" Walton

    As a former resident of Texas, I feel Ted Cruz speaks only for a small minority of Texans! He is more "sound bite" than action. The best thing sensible Texans can do is vote him out and elect someone who can bring "home the bacon." Someone forgot to tell him that Tea Party folk are not the only ones paying his salary.

    February 20, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  25. Chewy

    Ted Cruz might not be a graceful politician......BUT he stands up for the citizens that voted him in office.
    It is better to be a man condemned for standing up for his morals and values.
    Than to be on his knees bowing down for the crumbs and the whims of the corrupt and immoral.

    February 20, 2014 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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