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. Steve Allard

    He doesn't work for party boxes and he obviously doesn't work for the american public, so he must only be working for himself.

    October 20, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. gmenfan54

    Ted Cruz only works for himself.

    October 20, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  3. Hillary

    Cruz: " I don't work for the Party bosses in Washington."

    No, you work for the Koch/Murdoch/Amway/Dell Corporation for Whack Job Politics.

    October 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. Sam Stewart

    Like he said, he DOES NOT work for people in San Francisco or Boston or Chicago. He works for 26 million Texans and they seem to like him just fine.
    Do you liberal idiots think everyone wants to make America like you want it? Uh no– get a clue.
    What the blue states think we should be like is 180 from what the red states populations believe.
    I think liberal America is evil and traitorous– you libs think the opposite. Oh well.

    October 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. mjbrin

    "I work for 26 million Texans" – and not all those Texans like what he is doing. but i guess he listens only to the ones that agree with him

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

    He hurt a lot of people in Texas with that shutdown. He hurt a lot of people everywhere.
    And that comment about Hitler up there... really shines the light on the bizarre delusions of the right wing.
    Nazis were racist, like the Tea Party. Nazis hated communists more than anyone.
    You teabaggers can't pick both. Communism and socialism.. at least by WW2 standards..
    are polar opposites.. Try to educate yourself a little more... it would do wonders for that hate.

    October 20, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. NameAlbrit

    Cruz,please; Don't talk for me,don't close the Goverment for me,then you made is a Terrorist act again American people,l am an American and you deserve put behind the bars.

    October 20, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Cruz, the teaparty dufus that costs us over 24billon dallars off the GDP , fiscal conservatives??????might be big in Texas with their braindead GOP voters, but your a big fat 0 in the rest of the country , run for president so that we dems can have some more GOP comedy!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. Lenny Pincus

    Anyone who spends five minutes reading Cruz's resume knows he is a Washington insider who has adopted this persona to appeal to a small fraction of America. It just so happens that this fraction is over-represented in Texas, but it won't be for long. Then he will change and adopt a new persona–who knows, perhaps a centrist (ironically, like Obama).

    October 20, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Paul

    So Ted works for the people of Texas but he doesn't mind dragging the whole country down with him. To threaten to destroy the economy while the country us at war is tantamount to treason.

    October 20, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. CHilidog

    Ted Cruz admits he only works for Ted Cruz.

    Ao what else is new.

    October 20, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  12. James Napoli

    Cruz is out if touch with most.

    October 20, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Hey, that's what hitler said, I don't work for the party bosses, the nazi party!!!!!!

    October 20, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  14. don in albuquerque

    24 Billion Dollars shot.....Children with out health care or food....the nation shut down.....threatening the world economy, Maybe its time the American start returning the only thing the Tea Party has given us so far. Care for a little hate in your tea cup of blood.

    October 20, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. dike

    Go ted GO... and GO Sarah Go...

    October 20, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. Kinard

    No. He's digging deep into the pockets of the Koch brothers. He's got the go ahead from someone. Let's see, who could that be? Remember, republicans love money. They hate for you to have any, or even see it for that matter. But they love it.

    October 20, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  17. mr choi

    Cruz is americas new terrorist. OSAMA BIN LADEN will be proud of him.

    October 20, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  18. EddyL

    No, because he's bought and sold by Koch boys......

    October 20, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. omgamike

    I'm with letting the ACA play itself out. If it succeeds, millions of people will have health insurance and the country will be better off. If it doesn't succeed, nobody will have anything to worry or crow about. As of this morning, the feds are saying about 1/2 a million people have signed up. Those totals do not include the numbers of people in the state exchanges who have signed up. A side benefit if it succeeds is that it will shut up Ted Cruz. He will fade into irrelevance, with no one having to do anything.

    October 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. TXgal

    He doesn't work for me, either and he doesn't play well with others.

    October 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  21. Name- Ray

    He doesn't work for the Party bosses? That's right. It appears he works for the Democratic Party National Committee because the Democrats seem to be the only people getting any benefit from this clown.

    October 20, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Bill

    Think I'll move then. texas........just to vote against him.

    October 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. JRS

    By gosh.... it IS true! Everything in Texas is BIGGER – and that includes Cruz's mouth. I like all the "what I say to camera's is what I say to my colleges etc etc) – but what gives him [Cruz] the right to hold the government "hostage" by attaching a partisan political agenda to a very straight forward debt ceiling bill? Cruz sounds like a bully to me and come Jan. or Feb. when we have to go through all of this again, I hope he realizes that he isn't as big a "hot shot" as undoubtedly he thinks he is! And by the way... I did NOT vote for Obama either time,

    October 20, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. Rick McDaniel

    He is correct. he works for the people of his district, BUT........and this is KEY to the problems in Congress.........he is responsible not only to the people of his district, but he ALSO has a responsibility to the people of America, to work for the people of his district, in such a way, that he does NOT HARM the country, overall.

    That is the one thing that most of the people in Washington don't get.........they ALSO have a responsibility to the people of America, that TAKES PRECEDENT, over what is good for the specific district being represented.

    That basic fact needs to be remembered by all Congress persons, whether in the Senate or the House, and both, the responsibility to the people of America, and then the responsibility to the people of the district, must be met, to have done the job well.

    There is NO responsibility to political party leaders.........and that is something that individual Congress persons must clearly understand. It is not about growing the POWER of the POLITICAL PARTY. It is about serving the people of America, first and foremost.

    October 20, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. dUB1045`

    Name 5 Things the Non Tea Party Senators stand for that are not the same as the Liberal Democratic beliefs. Name 2.
    RINOS have taken over the party and there is not a dimes worth of difference in the two main parties. Only how to implement them. Ted Cruz is the point man to try and take the party back from the RINOS. We need more like him to have a different conversation.
    Harry Reid to Mitch McConnell; " Senator McConnell would you change your vote for 2 billion dollars?"
    Why yes I would.
    Would you change it for 200 dollars?
    No I would not, what kind of guy do you think I am?
    We've already determined that, now we are simply negotiating the price.

    October 20, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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