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. oharris30

    If Ted Cruz and his fanatical followers took a long hard look at the poll and people's opinions of them during and after the shutdown they would have more sense than to try this fiasco again. The man is mental and a liar who can fool the weak minded. We Dems don't have to do anything but sit back and watch the big business CEOs and others like the Koch brothers tear Cruz down. As much as the GOP want to win back the WH you can believe there will be inside fighting in the GOP party to get rid of the tea party and Cruz. All Obama and his administration has to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. lol! Obamacare has more people enrolled than anybody knows. States that are signing people up will be able to come up with the number Obama needs.

    October 20, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. DJ Reality

    Sure he doesn't work for the party's bosses. This narcissist work's for his own ego.

    October 20, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  3. AZGurl

    He doesn't work for the people. He works for himself. Period.

    October 20, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  4. Dewey

    Right. He works for his corporate bosses in Kansas.

    October 20, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. vikingwoman

    He works for uber-wealthy donors who love to buy themselves some politicians, a whole party is even better, but if that's not possible, how about the most extreme, volitile, reactionaries of the bunch! Hello, Tea Party! Cruz doesn't work for 26 mil Texans, but for a tiny minority; the Tea Party anti-government extremists! When you're a federal public servant, you work for All Americans, not just your state & certainly not for the small percentage of your state who agrees w/you! And definitely not for the Rich, who promise you presidency in exchange for doing their bidding! I'm a Texan & Ted Cruz is Not!!

    October 20, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. may40

    Liberals once again are terrified of someone who actually stands up against the government and this administration. You hate him because you fear that your "free stuff" will be taken away once we vote all those thugs out.

    October 20, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Snooze

    Is he really representing the American people when his shutdown has cost the American people 24 Billion dollars? I have listened to him and he has no solutions. His one claim to fame is to shut down ACA. I haven't heard one thing out of his mouth about how he would make health care better. I believe he is out for himself and his little light will burn out soon enough.

    October 20, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Pete/Ark

    In some gift shops in Texas you can buy gen-u-ine Bevo poop sealed in plastic ... Cruz is just another disgusting commercial product ...

    October 20, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. termlimits

    All of you eletist fabian lefties should vanish into the future of dust.

    October 20, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. may40

    All you liberals are so mesmorized by this President and the Dems it's embarrassing. Try educating yourself...start with reading the Constitution and compare it to your presidents leadership skills. FAILURE!

    October 20, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Catherine

    Thank you Mr. Cruz, at least one person in DC gets it!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  12. Dori

    No he doesn't "work for the party bosses in Washington." Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to work for the good of America, either.

    October 20, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. gahh

    The Koch Brothers didn't spend all that money getting him elected, for nothing. I live in Texas and he doesn't represent me. I don't like lying hypocrites who would cut benefits for children, the elderly, and disabled, so billionaires can keep their tax breaks.

    October 20, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Al

    No, he works for the Heritage foundation; he even looks like Joe McCarthy and uses 'liberal' the way McCarthy threw around 'communist' and is potentially as much of a danger...

    October 20, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. jjjhein

    I am waiting for this McCarthy clone (bombastic half-truths or outright lies, grandiosity, slightly looney looks, a charlatan alcoholic) to start claiming that he has in his hands a list of 132/214/860/12,000 communists working in the State Department or Health and Human Services or.....fill in the blanks...... I say let this nut rave on until he gets censured by the Senate. Then he can stay in Texas, run for Dictator and secede from the Union. Good riddance to him and the 35 million Texans. (The "libs", "socialists" and other Texans with a functioning brain will be welcomed as "political refugees" into any U.S. state of their choosing. This maniac will self destruct.

    October 20, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. cwdonald314

    It is fine to say you do not work for party bosses. My suggestion is that if Cruz is truly independent he leave the Republican party and run as an independent. With membership comes responsibility. Cruz cannot have it both ways.

    October 20, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. Kim

    This man and the tea baggers are the American taliban. Arrest them.

    October 20, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. joe

    "GOP didn't unite"
    "I don't work for the party bosses"
    Right. So "unite" in your mind means "agree with you" and little else – and since you are a man of principle, it's the responsibility of everyone else to compromise and get in line behind your fringe worldview.

    October 20, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. imsickof tedcruzs

    I'm an American, and I DON'T Stand with you
    Ted, or the crazy Tea Party Nuts!!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. Dave Green

    No, Cruz doesn't work for party bosses..He works for Goldman Sachs. Bought and paid for....Even married one of their executives.

    October 20, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Cruz is a sleaze who works for Billionaires that think they own the country. Just another yahoo chicken hawk who lives under the Koch Brother's desk.

    October 20, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Jules

    You know I strongly disagree with what Cruz is doing. I think that if he is successful, this will open up a xcan of worms that could cost people some of their freedom down the road. I say that because he will have found a way to make the minority a group that will have to be bowed down to from time-to-time and some will argue that our representative form of democracy has become ineffective and needs to be modified. Having said all of that I really do respect the guy. He has the testicular fortitude to stand up for his convictions, which should at least get him respect as a person. It's just too bad he doesn't seem to care about where this may be taking us 10-15 years from now.

    October 20, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  23. John

    Finally, an intelligent answer by Ted Cruz that he is only working for 26 million of Texas. In matter of reality, he is acting like he owns Washington D.C. and expect President Obama to submit himself to Cruz and Texans.

    October 20, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  24. Good Man

    Thank god we have at least some men, still will to stand on the side of right, and not cave into the mob and obvious intimidation. There is no reason, we have to federalize or national health care, the problems can be fix with minor changer by law that have to be adhered to by insurance companies. This is nothing but a power grab, and stunt to acquire control- it stinks from top to bottom, and it will be exposed for what it is in due time.

    October 20, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. Scott

    Cruz thinks of himself as a party boss. I won't be voting for Cruz for POTUS because he is a silly partisan fool.

    October 20, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
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