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.

‘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.

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. ib1sage

    Ted, your temper tantrum has cost us billions and more to come. You sir, are not speaking for the majority but for a small closet group of Tea Party anarchists. The Republican Party will pay greatly for the alliance they created with the Tea Party.

    October 20, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  2. The Doctor

    Ted Cruz is a charlatan, a tea bagger terrorist and an usurper. He managed to pi ss off the wrong people in the USA and abroad. I wonder what his chances are of survival?

    October 20, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  3. Name john vandra

    Everyone should have access to healthcare even if they have been diagnosed with cancer.Why can't the right work with left and make it a better product.

    October 20, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  4. Ed FL

    Hopefully you will soon be back picking up the REAL LETTUCE[not money ]Soon.

    October 20, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Mike in Texas

    As of 2011 the state with the highest % of uninsured residents: Texas 23.8%. The lowest: Massachusetts at 3.4%. Ted Cruz is only in this for Ted Cruz. Put me down as one of those Texans who Ted Cruz does not represent. If he cares so much about Texans why does he want to continue to keep them uninsured. Ted Cruz talks a lot, he is great debater, but he has no ideas. He is the guy who complains about everything but doesn't have an idea to make things better, just that whatever is in place is bad.

    October 20, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. phk46

    Ted: you don't work or speak for me either. So stop saying you speak for "the people". You speak (arguably) for the people of Texas, and have the support of a small fraction of the US.

    October 20, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  7. jedermann

    I wonder if those in San Antonio who "Love Ted Cruz" fans are aware that the government shutdown that he played a major role in engineering cost the American people 24 billion dollars and that he acknowledged that the only reason he conducted his stunt was to raise campaign cash.

    October 20, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  8. steve from largo

    He votes for the citizen's best interest. Obama is/has done more for the illegal alien criminals than he has for the American citizens. Look at rubio, he ran for the senate with a stance AGAINST amnesty, but he was the poster child for the gang of eight and look where that got him, from GOP golden boy to in the cellar in the polls for selling out the American citizens. Joe Wilson was right for calling obama a liar in the state of the union address, as you can see and will see, it's true (quotes: affordable care act is not a tax, will end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas...).

    October 20, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  9. Wis mf

    If your network does anymore interviews with Ted Cruz, please get an interviewer that will not sit in front of him with mouth open, eyes staring, looking like an ignorant student being lectured to by an overbearing, pompous, long-winded teacher. Ask him a direct question, insist on a direct answer and if he starts to ramble, say good-bye. I thought Jake Tapper and Bill Weir are with your network now. Put them to work.

    October 20, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  10. TeaParty4Life

    Ted Cruz is what your dictator wishes he was and can never be. He has integrity, courage, and actually stands for the American people and not a socialist regime. Don't think that we don't know how nervousness Ted Cruz's influence is making you left wingers!! The Cruz missile is set to strike!!!

    October 20, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  11. Name Bigburnzie2000

    He is employed by the Koch brothers whom are attempting to get rid of the minimum wage and the middle class.

    October 20, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  12. shelbydawkins

    please just go away raphael.... nobody likes you

    October 20, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. Blaine

    Basically, inflict a bunch of harm on the American people and hope we benefit politically from it. Yes Ted Cruz, that is exactly what the republicans did shutting down the government. Finally, you admit it.

    October 20, 2013 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. MikeFromEarth

    I cannot wait for you to run for the Presidency, Senator!

    October 20, 2013 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    ‘I don’t work for the party bosses in Washington’ ...30 seconds later he says “Imagine if Senate Republicans had come together, had united and stood side-by-side with House Republicans ...". Does anyone else see the contradiction here?

    October 20, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  16. Marty Says Shrink Government more

    Cruz speaks truth against the Repub and Democratic political classes. Both parties and the Obama machine are responsible for amassing this $17 trillion in debt. How's Obamacare working out so far???!!!

    October 20, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  17. Name jro

    He works for big money, small minds. A disgrace. Let's have him give up his insurance and pension. Take the lead. But he's a fool. At least he's in TX.

    October 20, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  18. texasgreenacres

    If Ted Cruz can run for president so can Arnold Schwarzenegger.He has American citizenship he was Governor of Calf.But because he wasn't born in the united states he can't be president.

    October 20, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  19. DaveW

    Cruz may keep his own seat but he'll keep the Republicans out of power for as long as he stays a senator.

    October 20, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  20. Charles Knuth

    Teddy set out to gain attention – & I'm certain he's enjoying the limelight.

    He's a typical Texas sell-out, accepting payment from so called 'Health Care' ind. exec's that feel their yearly bonus may be threatened. Throw in a Haliburton & other corrupt government contractors money, made from taxpayers might I add, & this weasel will go far. God bless America

    October 20, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. Tomas

    This guy is coming pretty darn close to that scum of the earth Tom DeLay.

    October 21, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. Tom

    It's so funny this guy actually thinks he's more than a fly on a cow patty.

    October 21, 2013 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  23. Tom

    If you want to see what a cheating, abuse of power, and the worst of politics looks like.....just look at the Texas GOP. Starting with Tom Delay.......and including Mr.Wannabe .....Ted Cruz. Their days are numbered in Texas, thank God....

    October 21, 2013 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  24. Tom

    Texas is 68% Democrats now, so I doubt if he works for 26M people in Texas...........because most of them hate this guy now. He's lost a LOT of respect in Texas. GO WENDY !!!!!!!!!!!

    October 21, 2013 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  25. belinda

    Ted Cruz, could have used, some of the 25 billion, he squandered, to provide shelters to elementary school kids threatened by tornadoes. Many children died. Why haven't they been provided with shelters ? The GOP doesn't want to dish out the money. They don't have any problem, wasting large amounts of it, on absolutely nothing. Disgraceful.

    October 21, 2013 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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