October 20th, 2013
09:08 AM ET
8 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. TexasAnnie

    This self righteous narcissistic nitwad does NOT represent me. And I've been a Texan since birth a long time ago. Unlike Cruz, I didn't immigrate from Cuba to Canada to Texas. Sounds to me like he wears out his welcome pretty much everywhere.

    October 20, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. clarkkent

    This guy is so delusional. I wonder if he actually believes that what he helped do to the country was good for it? He refuses to take any responsibility (in this interview) for the shutdown, and instead blames the ACA...

    October 20, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Name

    Well since I have been a Texas resident all my life and you say you work for me and the rest of the 25,999,999. Your fired!

    October 20, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. watchingorcas

    “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.”

    Wait, what?

    October 20, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Travis

    If he wants to hold up Senate proceedings for 21 hours for a cause he genuinely believes in, I can respect him for that, even if I don't necessarily agree with him. But when he ends this prolonged speech by voting IN FAVOR of the vote that he was advocating AGAINST, and then proceeds to politically strong-arm the rest of his colleagues into shutting down the government at a cost of billions of taxpayer dollars just so that he can make a name for himself come the 2016 presidential elections – he's forever lost my respect. Ted Cruz is a shameless, self-promoting egotist who panders to stupid people who don't realize how badly he's manipulating their ignorance and fear. I once thought he was a good man by standing up to a bloated, doomed-to-fail Obamacare bill...I was wrong.

    October 20, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. J.

    "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"

    Isn't that what the shutdown and default did?

    October 20, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Steve

    I think Cruz is right about trying to stop Obamacare before it causes harm than "let it fail" and cinically take political advantage after it fails. Of course with the media most will not get that its a failure and the toads in the pan will not know they are about to be cooked as the fire is slowly turned up.

    October 20, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. 2020

    Cruz..... is the national disgrace.

    Harvard law school should have nullified his degree and kicked him off bar. There is absolute no value to anyone and this great country.

    October 20, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Sam, NJ

    Cruz is self- righteous, self- delusional, and self-destructive. He keeps saying he is doing it for the people, but the polls say just the opposite. He is a five minute fame and is irrelevant. He cannot even convince his own colleagues in the Senate, it is hard to understand why media is giving him so much importance.

    October 20, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. PJR

    Rafael Ted Cruz, are you saying you are the boss of the bosses? Are you also the boss of people who voted for you?

    October 20, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. America First

    His $24 Billion Dollar flush the economy down the toilet act cost 3 TIMES the entire auto support bill. And the difference, because TEXANS apparently can't do the math outside their own borders – HE COST THE COUNTRY 1,000,000 American working families and income with NOTHING to show for it. The auto recovery GAINED 1,000,000 American jobs. Stupid Texan.

    October 20, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Paladin Knight

    This may be the one thing Senator Cruz is correct about. He doesn't work for the party bosses. Actually, he works for the Koch Brothers and the super PACs that fill his campaign coffers so that he can be their little puppet!!!

    October 20, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. PJR

    Raefel Ted Cruz, are you saying you are the boss of the bosses? Are you the boss of people who voted for you?

    October 20, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    No, you work for the Koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  15. SFRich

    Texas has to live with this lunatic for the next 5+ years. That said, you might say we all do, especially if the sane in his party continue to follow his lead.

    But it looks to me like he's a gift to Democrats that will keep on giving—just like his batsh*t crazy colleagues Bachman and Palin. They're focused so much on what they believe to remain ignorant about where those beliefs fit—or DON'T—within the needs of the country, let alone the realm of what's politically possible.

    October 20, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Richard

    true, he doesn't work for Party bosses...he works for the Koch brothers, other billionaires, and his Goldman Sachs wife.

    October 20, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. rjnow

    Ted Cruz does not speak for this Austinite.

    October 20, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  18. geno marcello

    I totally agree with Ted Cruz. It's refreshing to finally find who says the same things in public, that he says behind closed doors. Any person who is elected to public office MUST be beholden to the voters that elected him. Cruz realizes this, and that makes him my candidate for the Statesman of the Year Award. By the way, I just created this award. It is part of a news letter that I am starting up called STATESMAN, which will eventually be made into a magazine. I don't agree with everything Ted Cruz says, any more than I agreed with 100 per cent of what Ronald Reagan said, and he is my favorite politician of all time. But I agree with him more than I disagree, and for that reason, he gets my vote.

    October 20, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Peacemaker

    He does not work for party bosses in washington, he works for tea party bosses.

    October 20, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  20. Bob6

    It's beyond me how someone like Cruz gets elected. Too bad we can't do better.

    October 20, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. America First

    Can you say MEGALOMANIAC. "Must have attention, must have attention, MUST get attention."

    October 20, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. America First

    Texas, the rest of us patriotic americans truly miss Kay Bailey. WHY, did you send a FOOL to replace her.

    October 20, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. America First

    A $24 BILLION dollar hit to the economy, and the comment from Ted Cruz – "We will do it again."

    October 20, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. NYVeteran

    He even looks like Sen Joe MaCarthy...

    October 20, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. If I had a hammer... I'd whack you in the morning

    Cruz not only do you NOT speak for me, thank you ...you speak for a dwindling minority. This earth is changing you can choose to hide your ears and eyes but its not going away, the sight of mankind moving forward and leaving you and your kind behind will only become more painfully witnessed with the passing of each generation of open minded relatives being born into your families. Gone are the days of Guns, Glory and God ... welcome to the new world order you will need to assimilate and let go of your labels. It is mans destiny to not live in the cave and blame others for the spoils you yourself bring with your money and talk of greed. Mankind is ready to let you vultures of greed and need go.
    Say Goodbye to the old ways Mr Cruz and welcome to a better possibility where poverty is eradicated and wealth is not based on money. Your constituency is afraid of change and you are harvesting their fear in dollars, shame on you Mr Cruze, shame on you.

    October 20, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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