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. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Hey Cruz , if you don't like our goverment, get the hell out and take your teabag dumb state of Texas with you and put the 24 billon YOU lost out of our economy on the GOP and croch bros credit card!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  2. Thaddeus Muldoon

    God bless him – Ted Cruz is looking more and more like a TV preacher every day. He definitely has a future in the media, especially if he ever gets Bill O'Reilly's job with Fox News. Right now, however, he is the main attraction at the three-ring circus in DC, all of whose performers are fleecing government employees, robbing the treasury, and squandering the future of this great nation. I guess we deserve it, though, since we invited this circus to town.

    October 20, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. Peace

    I think we Dems have to kneel down and thank god for bringing this crazy man Cruz along. The more he talks, the more independents who are thinking themselves, turn their back on GOP, and never think to come back if Cruz continues with this kind of behaviour. What kind of a person who can't recognise his bosses? Is he trying to force his bosses to take him as their boss? What an ill thinking is this one?

    October 20, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. over65havingfun

    He doesn't work period, just words of a fool, or the definition of insanity: repeat and the results will be different

    October 20, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Ron

    This is such good news for the Democrats! (And I'm not one.) The split in the Republican Party deepens and deepens. They may not even retain control of the House after 2014. If that happens, the 40 or so Tea Partiers can scream all they want to and they will have no power.

    October 20, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. Proudliberal

    America has a long history of extremists left and right who had their day in the sun, and then faded away to be mostly forgotten. Cruz, while he is now getting his day, will most likely fade also. It seems to me that he is trying his very best to be the 21st Century version of Joe McCarthy. Just as McCarthy was brought down by his own excesses, Cruz will be brought down by some brave soul willing to stand up to him. The problem is that, like McCarthy, he will do a lot of damage to our political system before that happens.

    October 20, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. Hmmm

    Funny way to run a country, have the masses elect which lies they will believe and which person telling them they will support. We all know when we are being lied to...one only need listen and then watch and compare. Yet we whole heartedly will back a liar and his/her lies proclaiming...."they all do it" and "well your person lies too". And we fight one another over which lie to believe rather than stand together and demand the lying stop. Interesting way to run a world that claims to seek the truth.

    October 20, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  8. They call me joe.....

    Hey dummy. Obamacare is more for everyone NOT JUST TEXAS!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Diana

    Cruz acts like hes the only Sen for TX

    October 20, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Ted Cruz is an ugly abberation in modern politics and cancer in the Republican Party.

    October 20, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Chris Wyman

    I love my country and I could concern myself less with what the entire country as a whole thinks. We are built on different views and personalities. If I want someone elses opinion, I'll give it to them.

    October 20, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  12. scarf

    “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.

    So how do you justify shutting down the government and threatening a default, Mr. Cruz?

    October 20, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Diana

    Cruz acts like hes the only Sen. from TX . 26 million voted for him

    October 20, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. Rosa

    I'm not sure who he works for. It's not for the majority of Americans.

    October 20, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  15. MaryM

    Ted, Hillary would like to thank you for Helping her campaign in 2016

    October 20, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  16. Disabled Veteran in Texas

    It should have been noted that he was speaking at a convention of Texas Conservative women. Sure they are going to like what he said. What i didn't like was being told by convention goers who seen me on the street that i should get a job. lol, no idea where that came from other than instead of wearing a suit like them i was unshaven and in jeans. One woman, not going to call her a lady, dresssed in Red white and blue even said she thinks that Sen Cruz should propose a bill to cut disabled veteran benefits the same way Sen Ryan wants to cut Social Security. She says we do not deserve the help. She also didnt like my wearing a US Army hat

    October 20, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. Joe

    Poor ignorant liberals just do not get it. Cruz is one of a few senators that represent what is BEST for the people that voted him into office. The vast majority of senators and congressman vote along party lines regardless of the outcome. Cruz votes to benefit the American people the remaining senators and congressman vote to benefit their party.

    Sad that liberals place their agenda before America.

    October 20, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Mr. Cruz is not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Nor is all America as gullible as Texans have proven to be.
    Cruz is nothing more than a Sarah Palin wannabe wearing pants.

    October 20, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  19. Reality Check

    People like Cruz and his TeaParty followers live in a world where they cannot separate rhetoric from reality. There are no consequences in that world. I think we all get and have always understood that the imbalance between revenue and growing debt is a problem, but no sane person would take it so far as to destroy the country to fix that problem or worse insist that a single program be destroyed in order to even proceed forward. But Cruz can be forgiven for being an idiot because he is not even in the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner, on the other hand, let this Senator and a small minority of his party run the show to the detriment of the whole country

    October 20, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  20. Brickyardjimmy

    If he actually had any guts behind his phony baloney principles, he'd quit the Senate today in protest. But he doesn't. So he won't.

    October 20, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. Tony

    Al Qaeda must be kicking themselves. They didn't need to bring down the Twin Towers. They could just sit back and let someone who was not even born in the U.S. shut down the U.S. government and do the job from the inside.

    October 20, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  22. Texas Dems on the Rise

    I'm tempted to register Republican at the next primary JUST so I can vote him as the the Republican nominee. There's no way Clinton can lose to that buffoon.

    October 20, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. the hippies were right

    @Deborah Small, I agree with your comment except for one part, "once we educate the public". I have lived in Texas for way too long and I have for years tried to "wake up" many republicans. Many of them family members. I have learned one bewildering fact, this type of person cannot be convinced they are being duped. I've tried everything in the book. I've presented to them facts, videos, data, graphs, charts and they have no desire to "change their minds". To them it's like asking a Longhorn to switch over and be an Aggie, aint gonna happen! I can throw 10 facts at them and they come back with, "well....I don't know". My own mother believes Hannity and Limbaugh over me. Now that's scary. Not one family member can name 3 things about the ACA that they hate so much. I can tell them 20 good aspects of the law and they think I'm just a poor lost liberal. The only way to turn Texas blue is to convince all the democrats around here to vote, because in reality, we do outnumber the pea-brained people who wear Halloween cowboy costumes everyday of the year!

    October 20, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Hawk in Texas

    Not only calgary cruz. every Texas republican senator and congressman and woman voted not to reopen the goverment. this is what republican gerrymandering gets you.

    October 20, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. Hawk in Texas

    cruz say's that he does not work for the party bosses in washington. no he works for the koch brothers.

    October 20, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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