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. valgys

    Ironic that he's coining the phrase "Bad Samaritan" for those Repubs giving up on repealing the AC Act.

    Cruz: "No, I rather we shut this whole thing down indefinitely than let anyone get in any laws I don't like or think will work. It's for the people."

    Sorry Cruz, people can't govern using one national crisis after another until they get what they want. We work in a democracy, but you and Boehner helped steer Tea Party Republican politics to be more in line with an oligarchy.

    October 20, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. James Warren

    Of course he doesn't work for the party bosses, he works for the Koch Brothers. When is CNN going to do an expose on Ted Cruz exposing him for the conman that he is.

    October 20, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  3. Tamer Kirac

    As Senator Cruz, I am also of immigrant background.

    However, unlike him I am closely familiar with high poverty and low educational achievement levels of most immigrants and minorities. Economic hardships faced by the disabled, single mothers, elderly and the disabled is another story that he neglects to acknowledge in his political platform. These population factors faced by 25-30% of Texans and similarly by the whole Nation are left out from his dogmatic political stand.

    He chooses to distance himself from these realities by cloaking himself as a conservative, better stated, as an extreme conservative. This may be explained possibly by feelings of hidden inferiority?

    His father's achievements as a refugee immigrant from Cuba and also of Senator Cruz's personal and professional achievements, has left me quite impressed. However, his elitism, dogmatism and indifference to the realities of those that elected him, leaves me disappointed.

    Having become a spokesperson for extremists within the GOP will not enrich his following and the sympathy of most reasonable Texans and Americans, as a whole.

    He will see this in the upcoming Senatorial elections.

    October 20, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. chalkie

    Ted Cruz is a Christian about as much as Boehner is a liberal.

    October 20, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. buck cameron

    Work for one person only – Ted Cruz. Go back to Canada Ted.

    October 20, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  6. austintexas1961

    He is so deluded in his beliefs, much like Sarah Palin was in her years of glory. It's one thing to be against a government law (Obamacare). It's one thing to be vehemently against it. I get that. But to shut the government down out of pique and the potential for a world-wide economic disaster? Although there seem to be quite a few Tea Baggers who think of Ted Cruz as their "darling", there are many, many more people (Democrats and otherwise) who believe that his policies are poisonous.

    October 20, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. austintexas1961

    I get it that Ted Cruz and his conservative minions do not like ObamaCare. But to be the catalyst for a government shutdown (and an accompanying worldwide economic disaster) just because he didn't get his way is beyond insane. His policies are poisonous. His Tea Bagger followers are numerous...but I believe that there are far, far more sensible Americans who find his views appalling.

    October 20, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. paul from texas

    This man cares nothing about the people. He only works for the TEA party when he actually works for the people, not just the government haters. He does not believe that he actually hurt many people in the nation in order to play games like a little kit. He should hold his breath until he gets his way.

    As an Independent voter, I am tired of the games played in Washington by both parties and both chambers of the legislation branch of government.

    Mad and fed up with all of the stupidity in government. The TEA party should be removed from the Republican party so that the two parties can work together for the people.

    October 20, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Stan

    Can you imagine if this guy and people like him were to ever get into power? No compromises... they'll know what is good for all Americans.

    October 20, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  10. DaveC

    "No compromise" Cruz. Spoken like the got rich sue everyone lawyer he truly is. He is a defense attorney who practices what he preaches. His way or the highway, Do we really need someone like him in Washington?

    I cannot believe there are people campaigning for him to run for president. I think he is going to have a hard time winning reelection as a Senator. The people of Texas are already feeling buyer's remorse.

    October 20, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. nintex

    @the hippies were right: I too am related to many Tea people who are totally deaf to anything remotely resembling a fact. They are so far gone on Fox News and so close-minded toward anything positive about "Obummercare" that it makes me sick to see otherwise intelligent people act like children who still believe in the tooth fairy. I'm just that "librul" in the family and I know they are praying for my soul.

    October 20, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. TTTOO

    What Mr. Cruz means by the Party bosses he does not answer to is the group of experienced politicians who might help become less of a hazard to the legislative processs, our budget, and our credibility as leading nation in the world.

    October 20, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Critical Thinker

    What's the difference between Sen. Cruz and Adolph Hitler? Adolph had a mustache.

    October 20, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. prism

    I wish someone would send this guy back to Canada. he evidently does not care what happens to his adopted nation, since he can always go back and live out his life in Canada after destroying this nation.

    October 20, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. tara

    Cruz works only for himself, and he'll turn on absolutely anyone – including his rich backers – if he thinks it'll get him what he wants. Don't know why anyone would want to be the president of a destroyed country, but he seems kinda twisted, so maybe it's got a weird appeal unique to him.

    October 20, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. john from texas

    this guy doesn't even come close to representing my family's ideas or values. Hes not even a Texan.

    October 20, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. prism

    in every sense I love this guy. If we had more people like him in the republican party, would soon become a one party democracy, with democrats winning every election. This guy has strong ideas about what people wants even though he does not know what people wants, typically like a dictator. Remember what Syrian dictator Assad says that his people are always with him even though they are not. That is typically how dictators think and this guy think like that.

    October 20, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. willbent

    I am a Texan and he sure IS NOT working for ME!

    October 20, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. MJW

    Ted Cruz, thinks so highly of himself, he thinks he knows more than all the other 95 senators who have served much longer than he has and with more combined knowledge, whether street or public policy than he could ever earn. He is so full of himself we should just keep letting out the rope. There was once a vice presidential nominee who thought she had more knowledge and experience and soon dig a hole too deep she fell in it while getting rich off the backs of poor people who she claims to be representing. I wish some of those poor people would be able to research and find out more information for themselves instead of what is fed them. Ted knows not, that he knows not. He is a fool, shun him.

    October 20, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  20. Kimberly

    Ted Cruz was doing exactly what the people in Texas elected him to do. Disagree with him? That's ok – I am sure there are many that disagree with what he did politically – but the thing is the people who elected him do not disagree with him. He was doing exactly what he campaigned he would do. He has follow-through. He made a promise to the people in TX to do what he could do to stop Obamacare. He followed through on that promise. Imagine if all our elected officials followed through on their campaign promises instead of catering to the lobbyist for promises of campaign monies. McConnell, for instance, has already raised millions – the problem is – none of those monies came from Kentucky. The monies come from special interests for all the times he sold the people in KY down the river. Ted Cruz should be commended for a job well done.

    October 20, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. Michael Silence

    Cruz tells us that Obamacare is hurting millions of Americans and there is no challenge of his claim, no evidence to support it, nothing, no follow up at all. So the 'news' is what a nutty politician says it is. How about CNN trying something new- fact check, support with evidence, refute with facts but for Christ's sake! Don't just sit there and take it. Where can I find a good news program on TV?????

    October 20, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  22. JRJ

    Another overly ambitious egomaniac who cares nothin about the people or the country. We are lucky he exposed himself now. Tinpme to close him down.

    October 20, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  23. Tyrone

    Ted, the Cuban immigrant from Canada, is smart but also a lunatic. I hope that he keeps it up and derail the himself, tea party, gop.

    October 20, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  24. Fulano

    Rafael Cruz – the Joseph McCarthy of the new century.

    Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? Joseph Nye Welch

    June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army–McCarthy hearings

    October 20, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. Oy

    We all know you you work for, Cruz, and it's not the American people. Well, at least not the 99%!
    How stupid does he think people are? K-O-C-H. Need I say more?

    October 20, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
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