November 8th, 2013
10:13 PM ET
8 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."

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz blasts 'party bosses' in homecoming rally

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. norma jean

    WoW !!... Well it looks like Cruz has finally made it to the "big time"... The Leno show!!!! Now isn't that something......along with all of the "also rans" IN GOLLYWOOD " that nobody ever heard of!!!! It would be fun to watch and just see Cruz at a time when someone can out talk him!!!!I.......Oh he'll try...but he hasn't got what it takes......because out here he isn't a celebrity!!!!


    November 8, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Thomas

    I can't wait for Jay Leno to retire , he's no "Johnny" Carson !

    Ted Cruz is an elitist who portrays himself as a common working class every day guy .

    He's a fraud .

    November 9, 2013 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  3. just me

    Ted, the critics ARE attacking you, for being an egotistical, loud mouthed bufoon. They're also attacking your father. For being a loud mouth bufoon. Can't say for sure he's egotistical, but he does seem to crave attention.

    November 9, 2013 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  4. ThinkAgain: The GOP owes our nation $24 billion

    "We ought to empower patients rather than government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor.”

    Ted is a liar and anyone believing his bilge is a fool. He's also a delusional charlatan, thinking he has more than a snowball's chance to ever becoming POTUS.

    November 9, 2013 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    Cruz is what is wrong with politics. At least now, he says he is a big believer in health reform, after shutting down the government and almost destroying our economy. But, he has no plan for reform. As for the republican lie that the ACA is a "job killer', businesses have denied that claim by Cruz and Fox. He also has talked about ACA as socialism, but private insurance companies are competing, and it is not a government takeover, just another cheap shot. The socialism lies of the RWNJs can be proven wrong by looking at the stock marker and the 44 consecutive months of job growth, negating the 8 million jobs lost in Bush's last year. Hopefully, people got to see that Cruz is nothing more than a domestic terrorist.

    November 9, 2013 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  6. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    Empowering patients? What could go wrong when an individual is negotiating with health insurance companies on their own? It appears that the republicans' plan for health care is to let everyone have a junk policy that does nothing for them when they are sick, allows people to lose insurance when they are sick, have their benefits capped, and comes with high deductibles. In other words the RWNJs want to , 'empower insurance companies.'

    November 9, 2013 05:54 am at 5:54 am |
  7. Brian Smith

    Ted Cruz vs the world – he is the victim!

    November 9, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  8. Angie

    I have changed my opinion about Ted Cruz in the last few months, I think he says what he means and means what he says, he wants what is best for this country, and he works hard to keep his promises. I wish our president would have those traits.

    November 9, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |

    Rapheal Cruz ushed The Guns Over People tea potty over the cliff while he took money with both hands. Ask the Chooch in Virginia how he likes Rapheal Cruz these days. The NRA wouldn't give Young the wingnut in Alabama any money and he lost thanks to Rapheal Cruz and 144 sheep in the House who voted to destroy the full faith and credit of America.

    November 9, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  10. NY Repub

    Out of all the speaches Cruz has made about the Affordable Care Act, he has not said specifically what parts of the law he is for and against. He also has not given one suggestion of how to make the law better or what he proposes to replace it. Not much of an idea guy.

    November 9, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Politics is a dirty game, and disgusting people like Cruz make it dirtier. He brings no solutions to the table, so his only mission is to tear things down, leaving a path of destruction across the country.

    November 9, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  12. Mo

    Asked by Leno about descriptions of the freshman senator as aggressive, arrogant and abrasive, Cruz said, “Don’t believe everything you read.”

    How about what I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears when I watch his crazy performances? I guess I shouldn't believe any of that.

    November 9, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  13. 433 mike

    Leno has gone as low as possible with this moron on his show. I say good riddance to both.

    November 9, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  14. bear

    Send him back to Canada where he was born,the only problem is they would not let him back.

    November 9, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  15. Robert N. constant

    Ted Cruz's Tea Party shutdown cost the government more than 24 billion dollars. His near bringing the country to default probably did even more harm than that. His policies do not help America. He is unfit for the office of trust he holdsw.

    November 9, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  16. Goodguy6410

    If Reid cringes at the idea of Cruz being nominated by GOP, then it must be a good thing. Anything Reid wants we should do the opposite.

    November 9, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  17. Guest

    I'm not a fan of Mr. Cruz, but Jay Leno looked like a fool last night. He attacked Mr. Cruza nod attempted to use liberal trick in to make him look bad. Even using failed Obamacare as a weapon. Shame on you Jay Leno. I lost a lot of respect for you last night,

    November 9, 2013 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  18. E Schuyler

    So late night TV brings a bigot on the Tonight Show .... the father talking disgracefully about our President .... and then lashing out against in the world are they hurting him or his father ........ by the way father Cruz.......if you are a clergyman ...who gave you the authority to judge people ..... are you God ...or a demi – god? I'll leave that to the court of public opinion.

    November 9, 2013 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  19. John

    "I think we ought to reform healthcare 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.” – Ted Cruz

    Well Senator, we've been in that system, the one that you and other republicans touted and help put in place more than 17 years ago. It has resulted in a carefully contrived managed care network with increasing barriers to access, near 100% pre-existing condition exclusions, costs that have risen steadily while services are being increasing provided by quasi-professional staff and it placed the corporate insurance industry, rather than the government, between us and our doctors.

    Cruz merely represents the side of the equation that is propelled by corporate strategy rather than assurance and access to reasonable healthcare by all Americans. The insurance industry is railing as hard as they can against the Affordable Healthcare Act because it brings access to insurance for the very population that the private industry has just spent the last 17 years excluding. The managed care system is cleverly defined as preventative care and it's actually about a corporate profit system designed to provide insurance for healthy persons, not those with medical conditions.

    November 9, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  20. Citizen Caine

    He spoke like a true politician... at no moment did he commit himself to any thing...

    November 9, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  21. liberal disease

    late night it's not just for liberal propaganda anymore. Maybe he can get through to some of the low information voters who only vote dem because you can get stuff for free.

    November 9, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  22. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    They owe it to him. Few other political figure, save Sarah Palin, has given late night comedians so much material. I can't wait to see a close up of his eye make up.

    November 9, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  23. Gurgyl

    CNN, I am sick and tired of seeing this male Sarah Palin, just go away, please.

    November 9, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  24. Monsieur Grumpe

    The acorn doesn't fall for from the tree. Yes, I'm talking about nuts; Cruz and his father.

    November 9, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  25. T E X A S

    Sit down Ted. You are embarrassing Texas.

    November 9, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
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