October 20th, 2013
09:08 AM ET
7 years ago

Cruz to CNN: ‘I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington’

(CNN) - Back in his home state after the reopening of the government, Sen. Ted Cruz didn’t rule out the idea of again staging the strategy that helped lead to the 16-day partial shutdown and bashed his fellow Senate Republicans for not trying hard enough to dismantle Obamacare.

The Texas Republican, in an exclusive interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash in San Antonio, was unapologetic for fighting to defund President Obama’s health care law in the face of outsized odds, saying he doesn’t work for the “party bosses” in Washington.

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‘Part of the club’

Asked whether it bothered him that so many Republican senators expressed outrage at his approach - one that involved a 21-hour talkathon on the Senate floor - the first-year senator said, “not remotely.”

“I work for 26 million Texans. That’s my job, to fight for them. I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington. I work for the people of Texas, and I fight for them,” he said in the interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ted Cruz, back in Texas, rails against fellow Senate Republicans

“Look, the reason people are frustrated all over the country is that far too many people get elected and they think they’re there to be part of the club,” he continued.

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Bash added that one of Cruz’s colleagues told her that Republicans in the Senate strongly opposed the senator’s attempt, with one of them saying “it was like an intervention” when they privately tried to convince him to back down.

“They told me that you really didn’t flinch,” Bash said.

But Cruz said he gave the same answer to his Republican colleagues behind closed doors as he gives in front of the cameras.

“What I say privately to my colleagues is the same thing I say publicly,” he said. “And you know what’s interesting? Virtually every person in that room that was criticizing what (Utah Sen.) Mike Lee and I were doing would have said very different things if a camera was in this room. Because what they’re telling their constituents is very different from what they’re saying behind closed doors.”

Police investigating threats against Ted Cruz

Cruz was well received at San Antonio event on Saturday. He entered to a standing ovation and his remarks were met with cheers of "We love Ted Cruz."

"It was tremendously uplifting. It's really good to be home," Cruz said, joking that "it's kind of like DC, except in D.C. they're yelling different things."

‘A very different result’

House Republicans followed Cruz’s rallying cry to attach anti-Obamacare provisions to must-pass spending legislation, but the Democratic-controlled Senate refused to take up anything but a “clean” short-term spending bill, meaning one without anything related to health care.

House Republicans first passed legislation that would defund the law and then a bill that would delay it. Softening some more, they passed a bill that would delay just the individual mandate. But the Senate, with the backing of the White House, continued to reject the legislation, demanding only a clean bill.

With no agreement, the government shutdown took effect October 1.

A defeated GOP wants to unite, move on, fight another day

Even though Republicans are the minority in the Senate, Cruz said, the shutdown could have been avoided if those in his party united to support their colleagues on the other side of Capitol Hill.

“Imagine if Senate Republicans had come together, had united and stood side-by-side with House Republicans and had said, ‘we’re with the American people. We want to fund our government. We want to fund every aspect of our government, but we want to answer the American people who are being hurt because of Obamacare,’ ” he said. “We would have ended up with a very different result.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, however, said Sunday on "State of the Union" that the approach "was a fool's errand to start with."

"It was never going to succeed," he added.

Not ruling it out

Ultimately, the House and Senate passed legislation last week that would fund the government through January 15 and extend the debt limit through February 7. In the meantime, select members of the House and Senate will meet to hammer out a long-term budget plan.

“The deal this week was a lousy deal for the American people,” Cruz argued.

While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and McCain have ruled out another government shutdown in the near future, Cruz didn’t take the option off the table.

McCain: No more shutdowns, 'I guarantee it' | McConnell: Further shutdowns 'off the table'

“There will be time enough to talk about specific strategies, specific tactics,” he told Bash. “There are a lot politicians in Washington who want to put Obamacare behind us. Say OK, fine, no more. No more discussing Obamacare. And you know what? The American people are not satisfied with that.”

Some Republican lawmakers argue that rather than taking an aggressive approach against the federal health care law, they just should let it fail on its own, as many of them believe it will.

But Cruz said that was an ill-conceived tactic.

“There are some Republican gray-beards in Washington who make the point ‘Let's just let this collapse … and then Republicans will benefit,’ ” Cruz said, adding that he “profoundly” disagrees with the approach.

“I consider that theory the ‘Bad Samaritan’ theory. Basically, inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. What a terrible, cynical approach. I am not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically if they blame the Democrats for the foolish policies that have been imposed.”

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Government Shutdown • Ted Cruz • Texas • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (632 Responses)
  1. heebeejeebee

    It's time to jettison Texas if this is what Texans truly expect of their US senator. Secession? Let's throw 'em out.

    October 20, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  2. coolvfx

    thats right, you work for corporate hacks

    October 20, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. Dan W

    Oh He's from TEXAS? Texas doesn't want a federal government at all, it wants a confederacy of independent states led by itself. They sell beer that offers to enter you into a raffle to win federal property for after the federal government is dissolved. #AlamoDraft

    October 20, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Aargee

    If he doesn't work with the establishment – then he should have run for the race as an independent. Good or bad u needed support from the establishment when u want to get elected – now talking about reporting to people etc : Absured.

    October 20, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. Mark

    This guy is a clown.

    October 20, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Fed up

    No, apparently you work for the Koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Don

    Senator Cruz does not speak for all Americans; I do not like it when he infers that the vast majority is in agreement with him. He also has no concept that senators who disagree with him may be responding to their voters. My major frustration, which I think many share, is that Cruz contributed to a shutdown and risks to our finanicial rating, events which few people wanted.

    October 20, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. WillyNilly

    Yup, the same people who gave you the 8 year slide under the Bush administration are trying to give you Ted Cruz. Dump him at the first opportunity, he's giving sensible Texans a bad name.

    October 20, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. monstercj

    I'm not a huge Cruz supporter, but I do like him. I admire the guy for at least not "playing" politics, but listening to people in general. His "stunt" was to say "wake up America and understand what you voted for". Obamacare will hurt everyone who aren't rich, doesn't have their healthcare paid by their employer, or are poor, or fake poor, or are immigrants. Since when did my country value an immigrant more than the people who are working, built this country, and continue to pay taxes to support those people. This is a country of gifts, to those who come here from elsewhere, but are terrible to those who have been here. My dad got a "purple heart" fighting for our country. Where's my purple heart?

    October 20, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  10. steveeyes

    If the Republican party only exists to create problems without solutions, than they are part of the Problem.

    October 20, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Lucy

    Surprised to find many agree with me- Cruz needs to shut up and listen. A good politician, isn't a preacher, he is a paid for rep, and Cruz is not representing me at all....authentic, native Texan here says, shut up Cruz....

    October 20, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. FED UP

    Cruz and Cornyn should both be recalled as John Cornyn was right there with him on the vote. They are both a disgrace to Texas. We have always been known in the past for being able to negotiate and get a fair deal all the way around. Whether we agree with Obamacare or not, whether we like him or not, he is President and we have to learn to all give and take – and that includes the president.

    October 20, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    He works for $24 million Koch Bros. Dollars.

    October 20, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. LittleAztec

    “I consider that theory the ‘Bad Samaritan’ theory. Basically, inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. What a terrible, cynical approach. I am not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically if they blame the Democrats for the foolish policies that have been imposed.”
    AND JUST WHAT DOES HE THINK HIS LITTLE STUNT DID??? It didn't inflict harm on the American people?? BS "Not interested in seeing the American people suffer?" Oh, guess it was a 16 day trip to Disney World

    October 20, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. midwestmatt

    Yeah, we know you don't work for the party bosses, Ted, you work for the Koch brothers and yourself.

    October 20, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. matt

    Good for him to stand his ground. These political clubs are the reason for dumb american policies that none of us have a say in. Like say giving countries that hate us bilions of dollars in aid when so many americans are struggling. Obamacare is terrible for many americans and needs to be stopped. We also should stop funding terrorists. I hope at least one of these issues gets fixed.

    October 20, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. dan

    I'm a Texas resident and he definitely doesn't speak for me.

    October 20, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. George

    What would happen in our Congress if the word "fight" was banned??

    October 20, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    He said he works for 26 million Texans. Funny I thought he was supposed to work for the common good of the entire country. With thinking like that no wonder we get nothing accomplished. America, laughing stock of the world.

    October 20, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Karina

    Lack of civility in Washington reflects lack of civility among American people.
    Just look at the constant name calling on the blogs , nothing is up for a decent discussion anymore , if you don't agree it is easier to spout off derogatory slurs.
    Most civilized countries do not have a two party system and if whoever runs manages to get enough votes has the right to represent the people who voted for him or her.
    Your governance is no longer about serving the people but rather keeping their party in power.
    Lack of a credible media doesn't help as they feed you more fiction than facts , hence the White House and it's administration doesn't need to have transparancy and accountability.
    This shutdown was not due to Ted Cruz , it was due to Obama who brought little leadership experience to the Presidency and just was not up to the task.

    October 20, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  21. colkilgore

    Use Homeland Security to round up this guy and all the Tea Goober traitors, rebel seditionists, and Confederate anarchists and dump them right into Guantanamo with the rest of the terrorists!

    October 20, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Shan

    We know sir
    You only work for Super wealthy

    October 20, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Nodack

    “I consider that theory the ‘Bad Samaritan’ theory. Basically, inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. What a terrible, cynical approach. I am not interested in seeing the American people suffer just because my party might benefit politically if they blame the Democrats for the foolish policies that have been imposed.”

    So instead you shut down the government and inflict a bunch of harm on the American people intentionally and hope you benefit from it politically. Pfft.

    October 20, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. floridares

    Cruz works for himself. It is all about him. Get the photo ops, sound bites, pander to right wing, any constitents not aligned with him, he ignores. They dont get paid, he does not care because he gets paid by same govt he despises and wants to make smaller. Let us cut his salary so we only pay for time in Congress doing govt work...not campaigning and make that salary match his reduced duties in Senate because govt smaller!

    October 20, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Patrish

    “I work for 26 million Texans", no you don't, you are working for the conservatives, but not the rest of Texas. You have plenty of people in Texas that need health insurance. You think you are smarter than everyone else, but you will find out, if you don't play nice with the big kids, they will cut you out of things. Congress is not going to change. Anyone that is really smart knows when you go into a new 'organization' you play it cool, to see how things work, and you always scratch other's backs. Rubio has got the right idea, and he will get farther then this guy. Remember how people jumped up and down over Sarah Palin? Where is she now, and what power does she have? Everyone likes new, bright and shiny 'thing's, but when the novelty wears off he's just another guy who no one will want to play with.

    October 20, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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