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."

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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. Arlen Cooper

    I would vote for Cruz in a heartbeat. He is the only voice I hear that stands up to the Kenyan impostor!

    November 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  2. Tim Morris

    Mr. Cruz is insane. He is so stuck on him self that and showed that his has no idea of what it is to hold public office. He will go down in history as the a–hole who would willing cause people harm than to be a senator in the US.cause them harm knowing that most of the ones harmed are most likely democrat's. He is a narcisist and a punk. Just another small man in the world and nothing else. He will be a loser and anyone who vote for him is misinformed. He needs punched in the arm everyday for the rest of his life. The money loss he caused should should come out of his ilresponcible hide. He does not a good man he is just a brat with no real insperation.See ya, hate to be ya you chump.

    November 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  3. Religious Guy

    Tedt Cruz says "I think we ought to reform healthcare". Why has he not yet proposed a good alternative yet?

    November 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Thinkergal

    Hey, Ted, if your father makes such offensive and ugly statements, then he is fair game for the responses. I read my own mother the riot act for a similar remark.

    November 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Jimjam77887

    Ted Cruz, what is wrong with America today. If the rubs push him as their candidate in the next election he/they will never win. He's a freshman in the house and the rubs had railed for years about Obama's lack of experience and this is who they will put up as their candidate??

    November 9, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. Alan

    Cruz represents everything wrong with America...shallow, self-serving, dishonest and phony...sad

    November 9, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. Siestasis

    The only thing Ted Cruz is for is Ted Cruz. His self promotion is sickening. The only person that comes close to this Senator's self love is Rubio, another self promoter that went into the FL legislature a poor man and came out a multi-millionare. Surprise surprise.

    November 9, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. Mshell

    Why have the Republicans not been able to come up with a plan of their own? Until they do, they ought to put duct tape across their mouths.

    November 9, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. vidal808

    Why is this guy still making news? He should be back in Texas crawling under a rock and stay there for good! Never, ever top be heard off again....

    November 9, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Evergreen

    Republicans seem to think "Obamacare" is going to be their magic carpet to 2014 and 2016. Is this all you have to run on?! Cruz, you wasted 24 BIIION DOLLARS in 16 days trying to defund the Law. How much will you waste in the future...30, 40+ BILLION DOLLARS?

    November 9, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. boyscout

    This guy is an idiot. He would sacrifise the country for his self aims and self adoration. He does not fight for the people he fights for power and money and his own narrow ideals. I do not want him deciding my future or my values. There are things that are wrong with our country's path but he is not the answer. And he is another secret society joker to top it off.

    November 9, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. Dave

    'occasionally people don’t like it'????? Occasionally? Really? As far as 2016 not a chance. The intelligent GOPers will never allow that PLUS there's a little rule about being born in the U.S.!! Calgary is not part of the U.S.!!

    November 9, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Trip

    Two losers Cruz and Leno.

    November 9, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Whether it's the government or insurance companies, there will always be someone between you and your doctor, to the extent that someone/something else will determine whether your treatment is covered. you can always pay for services not covered by your plan put-of-pocket. As it regards the AVA. the law actually empowers individuals who were pushed out of the health care market because of this decades-long escalation of cost. So sorry, Ted, what you really want is to avoid having to help make health care affordable for those who otherwise cannot afford insurance.

    November 9, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. ginamero

    Leno would ask a question then interrupt with snotty comments…wouldn't it be great if Leno interviewed obama with this much zeal instead of licking his boots the way he always does?

    November 9, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. Tony Torres

    This man is dangerous. If he is so adamant in abolishing the ACA why doesn't he have or give an alternative? Why? Because all he does is attack things and does not have an alternate idea of how to give people healthcare without all the strings that insurance companies have made people do in order to get covered. I don't think he has any idea in how to improve our (the USA) health policies. All he knows is how to mess things up and not how to fix them.

    November 9, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Johnny DC

    Simply put, there are two types of people out there:

    (1) People who vehemently dislike Cruz the moment he starts talking.

    (2) People who have actually gone through the trouble of listening to a full speech or interview with Ted Cruz, rather than hear "about" him or listen to sniped 3-second clips from him, out of context.

    Which are you?

    November 9, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Jim8

    I am now 100% in the camp that agrees that Obamacare is a bad thing, but, if I were in that audience I would have walked out.

    November 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  19. Mymy

    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.” Cruz answered in an arrogant and abrasive manner.

    November 9, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. Mark

    Watch out when politicians start talking about 'empowering people'. It usually means they want to shift costs from employers to employees.

    November 9, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Funonek

    It will be quite interesting to see who actually runs for office in both parties and who runs for the other parties. Ted Cruz is trying to make a name for himself but if he runs for president or is picked for V.P. for the Republican Party I for one, will not vote Republican!

    November 9, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Mrs b

    He offers no alternative. Are we willing to continue to be that country that spends the most $$ per capita on healthcare yet has some of the poorest health indicators? Those that can, pay for procedures, those who can not pay continue with their unhealthy habits often leading to even more challenges with rising rate of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The ACA, flawed as it is, is a step toward incentivizing wellness and better outcomes. Of course our medical specialists and insurance companies want to keep the stays quo. Where are the alternatives?

    November 9, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. amlcpamaine

    As others have pointed out, Cruz offers no alternative to ACA except shadowy, generic talking points. it's bad enough that for years now the rest of us taxpayers pick up the tab for the uninsured getting treated, but on top of that the tea party wants to just stop treating the uninsured. Sure, let them die in the gutter. This is NOT American and is NOT patriotic – it's selfish and mean. Better to reform the system, get everybody involved by being responsible to get insured, and force the insurance companies to spend the money on treatment not lobbying. Cruz NEVER mentions any of this! What fools to keep singing his praises and continue to pay for the uninsured through taxes, but blame it on those who get sick.

    November 9, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Theodore Cruise

    Your "Job", Teddy, is to represent your people. Well, not all of your people are adamantly against the HCA. So rather than just bashing it, as you have done since your campaign ads, how about coming up with a better alternative or at least a compromise?

    November 9, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  25. Johnny DC

    Which part of Ted Cruz is self-serving? You message board sheep love to just chime in with your talking points, having never heard the man speak or be interviewed. You just assume he bad for America, with no proof and no investigation of your own.

    Ted Cruz is a patriot the likes of which have not been seen in this country for decades. If only you sheep could read and think for yourselves.

    Baaaaaaaaaaaa, sheep. Baaaaaaaaa.

    November 9, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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