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. ellamvaram

    I really feel sorry for those who may agree with the comments of one of the contributors here who said that "Obamacare is a bad thing". Just because you told someone that a particular movie was fantastic and when he / she went to see electicity went off, you don't cuss the film and walk away. Most of us would wait as long as it take for the power to come back, don't we? It has not been proven that "Obamacare" has failed, not as yet. I tell you, you will be the first to admit that you were hasty on making such a comment, say in a few weeks, or may be in a couple of months. Remember, when the Medicare and Medicaid were launched it took of over a couple of years before the worked!

    November 9, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  2. billmosby

    Let's hope he can quickly leverage his newfound notoriety into such twitter endorsement riches that he forgets all about politics. If Kourtney Kardashian can get $18k per endorsement tweet, Ted should be able to become a billionaire in his own right soon and will then not have to do the bidding of his current billionaire masters.

    November 9, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. amisc1970

    Given the millions in Texas who have no or inadequate health insurance, it's a little difficult to see how he can justify that he is representing all 26 million people in Texas.

    He says that he's a big believer in health care reform but then lists some motherhood items that everyone agrees with. But he then continues with the false talking point that somehow Obamacare puts government bureaucrats between you and your doctor; it does not, but there have always been private insurance company bureaucrats between you and your doctor, with the insurance companies deciding which doctors were in their network, how much (if anything) they would pay for any particular service, etc. Obamacare hasn't changed that, other than things like saying that the companies had to spend at least 80% of the premiums on actual health care services, setting minimum requirements for policies, etc.

    November 9, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Anonymous

    @Johnny DC:

    There is a third "type" of person "out there" :

    Me. I have listened to his speeches and I have checked his voting record – both resulting in my "vehement" dislike
    for him and all that he stands, or doesn't stand, for. If you are pure Tea Party and believe a candidate should
    have only one thing on his mind, ie, himself, then you will like him.
    I don't.

    November 9, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Dick Delson

    Cruz is a schmuck. And that's the nicest thing I can say about him

    November 9, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Larry in Houston

    OMG !!! I saw this interview last nite, and you can tell Leno disagrees with practically everything cruz is saying, for every issue he brought up to him....LOL – Cruz didn't get much of an applause, most of the time....WOW !! The nerve of this guy !! He should be embarrassed of his answers to the shutdown & the green eggs questions !!!
    what a piece of work he is.....LOL – well, I can honestly say that I did not vote for him....Ted Poe is just as bad, but you don't see him doing all the antics that cruz is doing......LOL – – pitiful I tell ya, Just pitiful....

    November 9, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. mr sensitive

    I believe that both parties have failed miserably and Cruz is one of them .

    November 9, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. wendel

    If this guy doesn't make you rethink the tea party and the republican party then you deserve what you get. !

    November 9, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Kenneth

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

    That these tools still exist simply amazes me.

    November 9, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Bob

    Oh please Cruz run in 2016 then the other party will be assured of a hands down victory.

    November 9, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. tired of cruz

    Following Obama lead or we? I might not agree with the president on a lot of things but has open the doors for nationality for all races to run for president BIG DADDY CRUZ talks about defundind ACA but I never heard his plan for anything to help the American people if he has could you please tell me where to look for it everything he has said is the word NO.

    November 9, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Pat in iL

    Some day he is going to have to actually answer a question or put forth an idea. Now he just repeats the same few talking point sentences over and over again, no matter what the conversation. Just saying that Obamacare costs jobs is not only wrong (it hasn't even started yet), but he doesn't either try to explain that in an intelligent, fiscal way, one offer a different or better idea.

    November 9, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. proshooter

    I saw the episode last evening. Besides having the personality of a turnip and looking very shabby, one could see how little he has to say. His appearance on the Tonight show did little to endear him to me. It seems he has nothing to offer politically except a self importance, topped off with a big mouth. When speaking about his father, he states he wanted the pres to lay off. Maybe they would if Cruz kept him out of the limelight. I've never seen a politician with less appeal or intelligence then Cruz.

    November 9, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Peter Bishop

    What? Only Obama is allowed on talk shows?

    November 9, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. dnarich

    Am I the only one who is experiencing Ted Cruz' response as typical of the "silent majority"??? No sound when Leno turns it over to Cruz... Annonymous shenanigans??

    November 9, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Ted's wife is a VP with an investment banking firm in Houston . Ted Cruz, when asked if he or his wife profited from the government shutdown , he answer was , not indirectly

    This guy is corrupt

    November 9, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. Gloria in NW

    For the people saying Ted Cruz doesn't have a chance, the fact that he was born in Canada makes the question moot, but he is still dangerous, because he is another extreme right person who just keeps repeating the same lies over and over, and unfortunately a number of people will believe him. The GOP has told one lie after another, aided by their mouth pieces at Fox news, and after 5 years of the BIG LIE technique, many people are starting to hang every bad thing at happens, logically or not, around President Obama's neck. I am disappointed about a few things too, since we never get everything we want, but the hatred directed at this man has demonstrated for all the world to see how deeply flawed we are, and how ugly we can be. Someone has said in this discussion "if you vote for the GOP you deserve what you get." Unfortunately the rest of us will "get it" too.

    November 9, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  18. Larry B.

    Cruz is a very, very dangerous man. He would bring down America completely if given the chance.

    November 9, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. tom l

    To those that call Cruz' father a racist so that makes Ted Cruz a racist, I have a question. Since you probably are a liberal if you hate Cruz then that means that you also are likely to love someone like Al Gore so are you aware that Al Gore's father voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

    November 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  20. deee510

    Cruz will continue to embarrass himself and the teapublicans.

    November 9, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  21. Jeb

    There were some people heckling Ted Cruz, and he accused them of being paid political operatives helping President Obama. Ted, don't you get it, you're the paid political operative helping President Obama.

    November 9, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. poboy

    There are a lot of Texans that can't stand Mr. Cruz. Unfortunately, we don't have the demographics yet to vote him out. But in 4 years or so, we'll see.

    November 9, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. Keeth

    their leader, at the least committed fraud...but you'll forgive him...because love is blind to the truth
    you believe Americans are dying because they can't get healthcare...who told you that?
    the bill was approved in the middle of the night by a lame duck congress that never read was sold by our President with a litany of blatant lies...if he were an insurance agent any and all of us would be suing for fraud.
    he couldn't get one Republican onboard...nor all the Democrats.
    for those fans of big government, obamacare has become a swirling, sucking eddy of despair...those tea partiers were right about everything...and that...more than the lies...more than the what has hurt your feelings the most...

    November 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  24. tom l

    Holy cake. President Obama said this about John McCain's plan for healthcare reform in a 2008 debate:

    So here’s John McCain’s radical plan in a nutshell: he taxes health care benefits for the first time in history; millions lose the health care they have; millions pay more for the health care they get; drug and insurance companies continue to profit; and middle class families watch the system they rely on begin to unravel before their eyes. Well, I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think we should settle for health care that works better for drug and insurance companies than it does for hard working Americans. I don’t think that’s the change we need. We can do better than that.

    That is eerie. And to those that say that repubs don't have a plan, that's just a lie. I'm not saying their plan is good or bad because I haven't done enough research on it but they definitely have ideas and a plan.

    November 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  25. Sue

    Ted Cruz for President!

    November 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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