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. Larry in Houston

    Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but people such as ralph nader / ross perot / & etc. don't have to worry about running in 2016. When an election is close, those type of people usually takes Votes away from one party or another. (sometimes possibly a party or person Wins, due to the fact that people like that takes Votes away)
    That is why the Governor race was closer than was predicted, in Va...( the 3rd guy that was running, takes Votes away)

    In Summary : there will be no need for a 3rd person, or a 3rd party to get involved, in 2016......No re-counts....I believe it's going to be a "hands down" election......won't be close....

    November 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. llmoss

    Ted is an in your face politician when he is right. He was right about Obamacare, stood his ground, said what would/will happen and in the end he was right on point. One week later, Democrats who had staunchly voted against his call to delay Obamacare, changed their mind, because they were facing home voters that agreed with Ted and now are seeking the very same delay he had sought. What Ted said would happen is happening.

    What more would ask of your representative? Do you really want someone to just go along to get along?

    Ted did America a great service because he was Right. And, he wasn't a wishy washy follower trying to figure out how to keep his seat.

    November 9, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. w l jones

    We have a LEACH on taxpayer time.

    November 9, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Jeb

    Senator Ted Cruz was born in Canada, so while we were worried about Iran, China, and North Korea, a Canadian shut down the U.S. Government. Well played, Canada.

    November 9, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Erick Holmes

    He's a good comedian; I like what he was saying the day he did his filibuster; but he should stay in Texas. If China gave him $59K for info, he'd do it. He's stupid.

    November 9, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. Keep Fear ALive

    Cruz /Palin 2016 !!!!!! Yeah BABY !

    November 9, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. mitchyj

    If ever there were an ugly, ugly American, Ted Cruz is it.

    November 9, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  8. mitchyj

    I hope he runs in 2016. In every state where the populous can read and write, he will get the living crap beat out of him.

    November 9, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  9. Topaz99

    Isn't the discussion of Ted Cruz as a potential presidential candidate in 2016 simply an academic exercise? I understand that Ted Cruz was born in Canada and that the rules require the president to be born in the U.S.

    November 9, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. JohnRJohnson

    Shame on NBC for giving this individual air-time. He's the most destructive force in American politics today, not to mention the most boring, narcissistic actor on the planet today.

    November 9, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    Shame on NBC for giving this droopy-eyed Joe McCarthy impersonator air-time. He's the most destructive force in American politics today, not to mention the most boring, narcissistic actor on the planet.

    November 9, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. oharris30

    Glad I missed this show. Don't want cruz in my house in any form or fashion. the guy and his dad are an embarrassment to this country and I don't accept him nor his dad as an American. President Obama is more an American than these two including Rubio will ever be!

    November 9, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. rl

    Please gop, please nominate Cruz. First of all we have a birther issue, but more importantly we have a gop civil war in the making, The biggest problem in 2012 is that the gop had no one of substance to run. If nominated Cruz would have nothing to run on except we got rid of the minority guy, now let's make the
    White House white again.

    November 9, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Catherine

    This man is a pleather of misinformation and appears to have illusions of grandeur! Should he run for president, my wish is to see his crushing defeat! People like Mr. cruz have no place in government.

    November 9, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. The Valeyard

    Here's hoping the GOP nominates him to run for president under the Republican banner in 2016. The GOP needs to be kept out of power and nominating Cruz as the face of their party would assure that.

    November 9, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. RI

    Why was Cruz on the Leno Show again–please explain? Is Jay Leno running out of guests to appear on his crappy show? Leno's as desperate as the Tea Party!

    November 9, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. marty b.

    The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. Both Cruz jr. & sr., are worthy of more scorn than they already receive. The rollout is indeed a debacle, but the payoff will help considerably more than hinder. All the major social experiments of the last century (social security, medicare, unions, et-al) suffered birthing pains. At least give it a shot before declaring it a failure. We owe it to our seniors, our children, & our dis-enfranchised.

    November 9, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. turk

    I hope he runs for the presidency, he will unite all the intelligent, reasonable, and caring people against ignorance

    November 9, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Bob

    He should have made his first appearance at Ringling Bros ... after all, he is a huge clown.

    November 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. sara

    Charlatan is there ever was one. Politicians like him are destroying the GOP, a once great party.

    November 9, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. ghostwriter

    You liberals got it all wrong. Cruz is intelligent. He's following the path towards conservative greatness.....Scream "I hate all things Obama" loudly and as often as possible. You don't have to do much else.

    November 9, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. ol

    Why does CNN never challenge Cruz? Good for TV/Online ratings perhaps.

    November 9, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. haddock

    Have you seen his routine where he pretends to care about other people? It's hysterical!

    November 9, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. here and back again

    I know this is hard for Republicans to understand...but I will try to make it simple. We have a Legislative System that allows our Govt to change existing laws...learn to use it instead of trying to force your agenda by shutting down the Govt.

    November 9, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. MICK

    say what you want about Cruz but when it comes to obamacare HE WAS RIGHT!!

    November 9, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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