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. Will

    Cruz works for himself!

    October 20, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Dase

    Hahaha hey tea party you got owned.

    October 20, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. James

    It's been said here before, but I'll say it again. I'm a Texan. I'm a voter. I did not vote for Ted Cruz. There may be 26 million people in Texas, but he does not represent my beliefs, my economics, my attitudes. He does not represent me, and he most certainly does not represent everyone from Texas. I am disgusted that he is going to be in the United States Senate for 5 more years.

    October 20, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. John C

    For all the bluster of Americans complaining about how crooked politicians are, when one actually tries to buck the establishment he get Cruzified. America you have exactly the govt you deserve, so stop whining!!

    October 20, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. mikie

    Ted Cruz is the result of atyplical ignorant uninformed Texas TeaParty/Republican voters whose only agenda is to
    attack Obama in spite of being elected twice. Why is their agenda "no compromse and no prisonerrs?' This whole Tea Party thing will pass and be irrelevant as Sarah Palin was not so long ago. They talk about helping Amercia but yet close the government? They are all just products of uninformed voting citizens who don't understand the constitution and the process of democracy...change is acceptble but this minority (Tea Party) is mindless to think they take the process hostage and don't have their way....looks like a child having a tantrum...hmmm We deserve better or we are getting exactly what we deserve for ignoring the process and not being informed and voting

    October 20, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. Michael Benjamin

    Senator Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, R-TX fights for only one person and that person is Senator Rafael Eward "Ted" Cruz, R-TX. Has anyone noticed whenever Cruz is asked a question he immediately segues into his defund Obamacare speech?

    October 20, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. nonyabidnes2

    what are congressman smoking these days? everyone WORKS for someone.

    October 20, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Think this through, folks: Cruz thinks that what's best for our country is to destroy it economically to "save" us from Obamacare, the basis of which is the REPUBLICAN (Heritage Foundation) idea of the individual mandate. He thinks that causing the global financial crisis that would result from our nation defaulting on its financial obligations is OK, because that's better than having every American insured.

    If you buy into this thinking and support Cruz and his ilk, you are as dumb as he is.

    October 20, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Wake Up Texas

    Texans, WAKE UP!

    All these phony cowboys who come and sell you on their plan to totally stick it to the people who are different from you are just manipulating you. Bush came from CT, Cruz isn't even an AMERICAN having been born in CANADA. These are the snake oil salesmen of our day and it's a huge industry once again. We need to stop these people from giving our great state a bad rep...oh, and from using us to destroy the country.

    October 20, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. rs

    Ted Cruz represents himself, and the radicals of the TEA Party contingent in Congress-The people who want to subvert the Constitution, and our American democracy. I am more curious as to how he means to re-pat the Treasury $24 billion- I doubt his backers the Kochs will pony up.....

    October 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. Marinedad05

    Ted Cruz has done great damage both to the US economy and the world economy. He and his handful of supporters are willing to damage the country, wreck it's economy, just so that their myopic view about Obamacare.

    Heck Cruz, if you hate the Health Care law, fix it or get it repealed by proper methods. Were you sleeping these 3 or 4 years? The HCA has been the law for at least 3 years.

    You just sound more and more like a damn sore loser, and putting the final nails on the GOP coffin.

    October 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Our Tiny Earth

    Of course, he works for the Koch brothers

    October 20, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. TheRightLeft

    GOP to Cruz – Go start your own party. Leave us alone. You and your TEA Party people are not Republicans, You are more like parasites eating through this once great party.

    October 20, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Name

    Cruz works for the Devil and he is not even good at that

    October 20, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. GoodVaGuy

    He works for the Koch brothers, not America.

    October 20, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. annieball62

    hopefully he will stay in Texas, and grants us the pleasure of never hearing from him again, he still does not recognize the damage his tactics did to our country.

    October 20, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Julia

    I'm noticing a pattern with politicians and Texas...

    October 20, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Daniel

    Wow the Libotards are out in force here on CNN. The district where Cruz comes from has a population of 26 million. So there are the numbers he is talking about. Also understand that in fact he works for them, not any one in Washington.

    October 20, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Kathy - Glendale, AZ

    No. He work's for those psycho voices in his head.

    October 20, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. eli saul

    Keep it up Cruzy. You are my hero. Shut down the goverment again, so Obama keep winning.

    October 20, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. t3chn0ph0b3

    Of course he doesn't. He works for billionaire paymasters who live in crystal towers.

    October 20, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Juan Carrasquiado

    Agree with mindstorms.
    These tea party extremism still thinks that we do not know who they work for. But in the case of Ted Cruz he looks and talks like a spoiled self serving egomaniac.
    Businesses need a good environment to prosper. If our now self proclaimed Good Samaritan Tea Party extremist allows we could allow our great nation to prosper. But unlike the Good Samaritan they first act like the thieves that beat the guy down to earth and then they say we will help you...

    October 20, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Dougie

    His style of leadership sounds a lot like a dictatorship not a democracy. His way only.

    October 20, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. vinster76

    Ted Cruz: a man of integrity and principle. To those who oppose you, I would simply say they probably do not have the slightest idea of what integrity and principle truly mean........If that means you reading this comment, then so be it...

    October 20, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Bob R., Maryland

    Let's watch this lone wolf and see what happens. Eli Saul has it right.

    October 20, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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