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. Steve S

    We all know who Ted Cruz works for.......Ted Cruz.

    October 20, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Larry in Houston

    That's the only thing I agree with him....They aren't supposed to work for the "bosses" in D.C. – They work for the people that Put Them There, period.....but I'm not sure if there is 26 million Voters down here. But there is almost 28 million in population, but several million are illegals, and the republicans just love that. Certainly you don't think that the republicans down here want workers that they have to pay minimum wage, do you ? Just Saying...

    Bottom line is this : Cruz will & can take the red states, but will have trouble with finding the "votes" in the blue states. Especially as long as the "electoral college" is the way we roll, in this country. Lord knows, if they ever change it to the "popular" vote, people like Cruz, will have an easier time –

    October 20, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  3. Thomas

    Ted Cruz works for the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks , Mrs. Ted Cruz: VP Goldman Sach, Economic Policy Advisor to ... Director Western Hemisphere ..

    They both worked for GW Bush ,

    October 20, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Hillary

    Hey, you Texans want to secede from the Union? I'll show you the door. Just don't come crying for money when Hurricane Hickhater, wildfires, tornadoes, floods and drug lords tear up the place. And start building your own roads, bridges, and airports and when you blow up your own back yard with fertilizer you are not going to whine about FEMA trailers.

    October 20, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Merlin

    I'm one of 26 million Texans, but if he works for me, he may consider himself dismissed. I would rather suggest his actions indicate Ted Cruz works for Ted Cruz. Anyone who would open the door to a government shutdown, then during the government shutdown stand in front of our honored veterans and accuse the government of closing the WWII Memorial needs to be dismissed for hypocrisy.

    October 20, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. JJ

    Thats right he works for his Cuban and Canadian handlers.

    October 20, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. m

    I like to spread dog excrement on confederate flags and then set the confederate flags on fire and then watch the confederate flags burn.

    October 20, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. amisc1970

    Cruz might say that "we want to answer the American people who are being hurt because of Obamacare," So what does he say to the millions of Americans who were hurt by the fiasco he pushed in DC, and intends to push again?

    October 20, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Craig

    Strange. He doesn't like the "inflict pain" approach, yet that was exactly what he did. Guess, despite his supposed intelligence, at heart he's really pretty Stupid.

    October 20, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Razgovory

    If he doesn't want to play by Republican rules then really he shouldn't get Republican money or run in Republican primaries. If he's not going to be a team player, then perhaps he should leave the team.

    October 20, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  11. Bill2000

    Cruz works for the Koch corporation

    October 20, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. tammyleg

    No Mr. Cruz...no you don't work for party bosses...you work for Satan and his minions. I bet soon he will reward you with your own army of flying monkeys.

    October 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. Disabled Vet

    He's creepy.

    October 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Cruz doesn't work for Texas he works for the Koch Bros of Texas, that's whose filling his coffers.Cruz is a fraud and doesn't give a damn about anything but money and running a Castro Regime by a hostile takeover. This was never about Obamacare or a shutdown, this was a COUP to overthrow the Govt and the American people. You better wakeup people.

    October 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. m

    Confederate Flags are evil.

    October 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. davecu

    Ted, my man. You DO work for the American people!
    Please keep that in mind the next time you try to score points against this arrogant, non-accountable 'administration'.
    You, unlike them, need to think tings thru.

    October 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. TM

    So instead of waiting for the health care law to collapse, to benefit Republicans, Cruz demanded the the entire government be shut down to benefit HIS craven political ambition. The only "Bad Samaritan" here is the Tea Bagger fraud from Canada.

    October 20, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. Old Vet

    I wish Ted Cruz would go hide under a rock and never come out again. He is bad for all American people.

    October 20, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. John Grippe

    While I may not like Mr. Cruz, and I may think he is ridiculous, he did make one statement that is true, HE DOES WORK FOR THE PEOPLE he represents, but damn, why can't he and all the rest of those politicians in Washington understand that they do work for us and that they SHOULD LISTEN TO US. While this may not be the best law in the world, we do need some form of health care available on the cheap.

    October 20, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. Ruthann Adamsky

    Has anyone noticed Ted Cruz's ears seem to be pointy?

    October 20, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Real

    Toss him to the gators.

    October 20, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. Patty - Illinois

    Cruz is freaky and scary. He has impressive credentials and is well connected with Washington big wigs (including former president GWB). Additionally, he has argued cases before the Supreme Court! He has the support of wealthy political organizations and people who are buying his involvement to advance whatever agenda they want to achieve. This background gives him a "leg up" far exceeding many of his fellow peers and he is capable of doing ANYTHING he feels will advance his cause .... better watch out for this supreme egomaniac!!!! Any that warning goes for his current fellow politicians, future political wannabees and all American citizens.

    October 20, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  23. Danram

    No, Ted. You work for yourself.

    This entire shutdown fiasco was all about increasing your personal name recognition and establishing yourself as the leader of the "angry right". You're hoping to parlay that into a presidential nomination in 2016.

    But I have bad news for you, chump. I, and millions of other moderate Republicans, will never vote for an idiot like you. If the GOP is actually stupid enough to nominate you in 2016, they will experience the biggest landslide defeat since 1964 when LBJ anally reamed "true conservative" Barry Goldwater.

    October 20, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Okay Cruz, you don't work for the "party bosses in Washington." That's fine. But guess what, the Republican party doesn't work for you either.

    So stop whining about the Republicans who bailed on you - those who decided to put America first, over party and ideology.

    October 20, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. Raj

    He's been dropping a lot of hints that he wants run for president.

    And the American people have dropped a lot of hints that he wouldn't stand a chance of winning.

    October 20, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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