November 8th, 2013
10:13 PM ET
9 years ago

Ted Cruz makes his late-night debut

Updated 11/9/2013 at 1:04pm ET

(CNN) - Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer limiting his speaking engagements to friendly GOP events and marathon talks on the Senate floor, appearing for the first time Friday on late-night television.

The Texas Republican was on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" to talk about his growing reputation as a tea party firebrand and his stances on issues such as Obamacare and same-sex marriage.

Cruz has fast become one of the most outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

He fed 2016 speculation as one of the leaders of the Defund Obamacare movement in Congress, an effort that helped precipitate the partial government shutdown when Democrats flatly refused to pass a government funding bill that also sought to destroy the health care law.

Reid: Cruz 2016 nomination would destroy GOP

For Cruz, the shutdown blame was and has been all on the Democrats. “I said throughout, we shouldn’t shut down the government,” he said Friday.

The shutdown happened only because Democrats “said ‘we will not negotiate and we will not compromise,’ ” Cruz said.

Democrats said that negotiating under duress was not negotiation and that the blame falls to Cruz and other Republicans’ uncompromising crusade against Obamacare.

That crusade gained Cruz intense ire from Democrats and even some Republicans, a situation that seemed to suit him just fine Friday. Asked by Leno about descriptions of the freshman senator as aggressive, arrogant and abrasive, Cruz said, "Don't believe everything you read."

"What I'm trying to do is do my job," he said. "And occasionally people don't like it."

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Cruz again tried to don a Reagan-esque mantle Friday, claiming that the Gipper launched a “grass-roots revolution” in the Republican Party in the 1980s. The clear implication is that Cruz believes he has spawned his own grass-roots revolution against Obamacare, boasting of gaining 2 million signatures on a petition against the health care law.

On that topic, Cruz continued to maintain his tried-and-true talking points: that the law is destructive and harmful, costing people jobs and money on their premiums.

Cruz avoided accusations of only wanting to do away with health care reform.

"I'm a big believer in health care reform," Cruz said.

"I think we ought to reform health care so it's personal, it's portable, it's affordable. We ought to empower patients rather than government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor."

Cruz also touched on some of the debate surrounding his father, Rafael Cruz, a businessman and evangelical pastor who's made a number of controversial comments, including calling on President Barack Obama to be sent "back to Kenya." The two have frequently campaigned together, and Cruz has often called his father his inspiration.

Ted Cruz responds to father's 'ill-advised joke'

The comments that Cruz responded to Friday involved his father’s opposition to same-sex marriage, an opposition the younger Cruz shares. But he has said he feels that the issue is one that should be determined state to state.

Politics is a dirty game, Cruz acknowledged.

"Some folks have decided to try to go after him because they want to take some shots at me," Cruz said.

"But I think the critics are better off attacking me."

Filed under: Ted Cruz
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. CavPilot

    Funny how so many posters think Cruz is stupid for not supporting the ACA... The ACA was designed to fail so that the Progressives can usher in full Single Payer healthcare. Ever wonder why the Northern Border States have so much business from Canada??? Single Payer system does not work and is more inefficient than our free market health system. The fools are those who thing=k the government can make better decisions for people than they can make for themselves. To quote Karl Marx, " Control health care and you control the people." It's all about taking your freedom away.

    November 9, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  2. The Mex!

    Ted is a MexiCAn'T!!!!

    Spare me, I am from south, it's all in jest...

    November 9, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. JK

    Cruz exemplifies the sad state of the modern GOP. I, for one, find this comforting.

    November 9, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  4. Amanda

    President Obama has told one too many lies. His dishonesty is giving credibility to the other side.

    November 9, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. Jimh77

    I think Leno did us all a huge favor bring Cruz into the light for the rest of us to see how much of a weasel he really is.
    He's playing the crowd with his evangelical statements. Good one Jay!!!! Expose more of the GOP into the light!!

    November 9, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. airjackie

    interesting how Tea Party Senator Jesus Ted Cruz proudly speaks for those Americans who have insurance and says the Americans don't want Obamacare. But dismisses the millions even in his own State that don't have insurance. Cruz did learn from his Communist Cuban Dad to let those without just die and only work with those that have. Cruz dropped his first name Rafael and only uses Ted so he can be accepted as white from his Mother's side. The joke on Cruz and his Tea Party is how Republican Conservatives and Tea Party supporters are signing up for Obamacare and glad they have affordable premiums.

    November 9, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Woman In California

    Great comment.

    November 9, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Name ART

    Some one should call I.C.E to deport him back to mexico that's where he be longs

    November 9, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  9. labman57

    The myth that the ACA is a "job killer" or "grandma killer" has been shown to be a hyped, disingenuous, propagandistic right wing talking point by numerous independent analyses.

    Of course, that won't stop buffoons such as Cruz and his tea-chugging minions from repeating the claim over and over again. Because if Teddy had to restrict his anti-Obamacare comments to factually-accurate, evidence-based assertions ... he would be speechless.

    Teddy "Call Me Joseph M" Cruz is experiencing his 15 minutes.
    By next election season, he will be another spent corpse on the scrap heap of tea party POTUS wannabes.

    November 9, 2013 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. cleareye1

    Cruz is the Republican of the month. The realists will soon be back in the saddle.

    November 9, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Joe

    Dem really really wishes GOP nominates this guy...then they just sit back and watch GOP self destruct itself...I like Sarah to run better though, it's more comical.

    November 9, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  12. Mike Trottier

    You can just see the slime dripping off this guy, can't you?
    Cruz is SOOOOO LOW, he needs a ladder just to get UP to the bottom.
    I Will Not Vote For Any Teatard,......period!

    November 9, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  13. khan in chandler

    Texas, where have all your smart people gone. Is there anyone who can shut this guy up. According to him, he speaks for 26 Million Texans, and Texas, your silence is deafening!

    November 9, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. Bill

    Senator Cruz has my complete support. I admire a man who stands on principle and isn't afraid to follow through on the commitments he made to those who elected him, even if it means angering members of his own party. That is called leadership, and is pretty rare in DC these days.

    Cruz will win in 2016 because he is the best candidate from either party. And it's going to be a populist anti-establishment message that will resonate with the electorate, especially after experiencing the harmful effects of Obamacare for 3 years. Cruz already has the support of the grassroots (check out his Facebook pages). That is how elections are won, and how he came from nowhere to win the Texas Senate seat by 16 points.

    November 9, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. Future

    Obama lied to the public to get Obamacare passed by one vote in the Senate and now the democratic rats that crafted this piece of crap are now scared of being voted out of office as evidenced by 16 Dems up for reelection meeting with the Whitehouse asking for changes..biggest liar since Clinton and Nixon. Obama , worst president in our history, hopefully we can survive the damage done by this administration...tripling our national dept in 6 years..

    November 9, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. Uh-Clem

    All this guy can do is repeat over and over again the same words without an iota of fact to support his claims. The reverse is really what's happening, but we must beware of anyone who can believe his own lies so well he can look you in the face and smile politely while he says something totally false. He has no alternative despite what he says other than letting the Insurance companies continue to milk the public with junk that poses as insurance. The Affordable Care Act is not putting the government between you and your doctors. It is mandating minimum insurance policy standards that are long overdue. We don't allow refrigerators to be sold that don't work effectively and it makes perfect sense to make sure that health care insurance provides protection.

    November 9, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Rob

    What universe is this clown from. They shut the government down period.

    November 9, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  18. S. B. Stein

    He didn't want to shut down the government? Really? I think that statement is full of something you can't mention on television. He doesn't understand what he did or the fact that government helps people. Cruz doesn't understand that government can do good things and doesn't want to hear from people who need government assistance.

    November 9, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  19. Grahame Rhodes

    The future of Ted Cruz is dancing with the stars..........Or in this case dancing with Sarah Palin. I'd watch that just for the laugh

    November 10, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  20. Minnie Mouse

    Ted Cruz is not going to destroy anything but his own reputation. He's not for any health care plan at all. If he was he would stop talking trash about the ACA. Everyone one needs insurance, no one needs to be denied services or cut off after certain dollar amounts are racked up. Some people may pay a little more, some people may pay less, some will get assistance and some will pay little to none but it is what is is. The ACA is the law regardless of what Ted Cruz thinks.

    If that's all he wants to do for president is try to repeal, replace, defund, and continue on a law that is already working in some areas, then he has no chance for presidency at all. There are to many more issues in our country that need attention.

    The new law is making everyone responsible to where the health care is not shifted upon the tax payers, has created jobs, lowered the health care costs in general, and gives everyone the same equality opportunity to health care access with better benefits.

    The ACA, will work in all ways with a little time then people will move on and be happy with the benefits in return, all while Ted Cruz can't move past it! If you want to make history and win a presidency, then come up with your own plan in something outside the box besides health care.

    November 10, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. PrincetonJim

    We need idiots like Ted Cruz to bring down the Republican. The party with implode just because such people exist within its ranks

    November 10, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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