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. Dave

    He meant "26 millionaires"

    November 9, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  2. bisusinha

    I am sorry to hear that my most fascinating show also got screwed up. I am glad that I did not watch this episode. I can't imagine that Jay Leno will ever invite the idiot CRUZ in his show ever. The sub-human Cruz want publicity just like Hoa..Palin and make tons of money. Because with his professional skill (if this has any like Palin) he may not be able to keep his wife with him for long. She knows this guy is a first rated liar, greedy and immoral. Only thing I could say (if my guess is right) to the lady "GOG BLESS YOU".

    November 9, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. Jimmy D

    Well, so long Jay. I was never a fan to begin with, but I'm sure you've managed to offend just about every viewer with a brain stem, by having this guy as a guest on your show. Brilliant idea, man. It might boost ratings for the shock value, but after people come to their senses, who knows?

    November 9, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Sandra

    So few people take him seriously. It's MONEY that keeps him in the spotlight, but wait until the polls open. Then it's BYE BYE, CRUZ!

    November 9, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. jimmiek

    Must have been a slow night for the producers if this was the best they could do.

    November 9, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. Jose Mendiola

    As an Hispanic,If cruz ever runs for president, or any office i can vote on,my vote is NO, No,But never NO

    November 9, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. JOYCE

    please let this cuban run for president him and his ugly old ass father should go back to cuba get the hell out of our country

    November 9, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Jonathon Powelly


    November 9, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. Jonathon Powelly

    Plati tudes is all he has.

    November 9, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. juanmoretime

    This guy and his cohorts cost us a ton of money with the shutdown. Even with a hispanic last name, most hispanics don't relate to him and come 2016 this guy is toxic for the reps. Born in Canada, so why would they choose him to run for pres?

    November 9, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. Michael Esposito

    Cruz is no good. He only represents himself. His father is still a Castro Communist. He in no way is a representative of my Latino Community.

    November 9, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. dave

    He is half cuban-I don't like them my fathers girlfriend growing up–basically my mother–her uncles all had guns from the bay of pigs–They just hate castro–Now i am a republican but what they can't understand is that castro won

    November 9, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. heebeejeebee

    Let's get it over with and jettison Texas

    November 9, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. Big Henry

    The Tea Party and Cruz are a bigger threat to the USA then militant Muslims like Al Queda. Cruz and the Tea Party shut down the government and wanted to cause a default. They almost wrecked the US economy. What morons!

    November 9, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  15. Rent sealer

    Cruz seems to anti- establishment. And this is a problem how? To who?

    November 9, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  16. donnasquaw1952

    I watched Jay Leno last night and I thought it was a good conversation. Jay did ask some come back questions on Cruz. Cruz is a really smart man and if he does run for president, I think he has a good chance to win. Obamacare is a train wreck! @amisc1970 yes Obamacare is coming between you and your doctor. It also will close a lot of hospitals too. Alot of doctor already are gone because of this health care. They either retired or moving out of the country. I can't remember what state PA or south Carolina were there was thousands of doctors they got rid of. Jobs are losing already because of this healthcare or even closing small business. I wish people would listen to the news on a stations that will report the news good or bad. I would say read the newspapers too, but anymore they don't report the true. Just wait if Obamacare isn't repealed or defunded, a lot of you here will be crying. Just wait. I like Cruz and I think he would make a good president better than whats in office now.

    November 9, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Rent sealer

    Some day he is going to have to actually answer a question or put forth an idea

    Are you talking about President Obama?

    November 9, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  18. Doc Ock

    The Cruz/tea party folk are living in some mysterious fantasy land, where you bash anything progressive, say everything the president does sucks, the Affordable Health Care takes away freedom, having billionaires pay taxes is unfair, blah, blah blah, and then when asked what SHOULD BE DONE INSTEAD, simply answer with scarp health care, increase budget cuts that affect kids and the poor and, really, have no plan beyond that.

    It's like a lazy teenager lying on the couch saying "everything on TV sucks, I'm bored, there's nothing to do" and then ask, "Well what you like to do?" and they answer with "I dunno".

    November 9, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. harv

    Ted Cruz is a fraud and self promoter. If he actually believed what he saying, he would not have challenged a soft target like the ACA. He would have offered up where the real money is, in a plan to make changes to social security, tax reform, and military spending. That he did not, is because of this presidential ambitions, the American people be damned.

    November 9, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. TruthandConsequence

    Making health insurance "Personal, portable, affordable"....and not involving government bureaucrats in the middle" – sounds like plain talk to me! What is wrong with all of you who think everything you need in life should be dished up to you by Government and paid for by someone else?

    November 9, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  21. allenwoll

    Great ! ! - Let's just KEEP him there with us out of harm's way ! ! !

    November 9, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  22. Matt in Missouri

    I hope this clown gets the nod to be the repulican front runner next election. Then we can all welcome of the next Democrat to office.

    November 9, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. My insurance policy was dropped

    Obviously anyone who loves the new health care reform has not their insurance dropped. I regretfully wish I would have listen to those people who said exactly what has happened to our family. I used to think our government had my families best interest...but now i understand my husband and i know what best for my two children. i feel ashamed voting for Obama and embarrassed to go back to work after convincing everyone government health care is the way to go. We all lost our insurance.

    November 9, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. jeff6187

    Notice how Ted has two different personalities and messages, depending on who his audiences are? While our legislature is in session, he's a rabid T-bagger. Last night with Leno he's a bit more on the side of the "it's not about party vs. party ... government doesn't work". Well Ted ... the REASON government doesn't work is because of the self serving @-holes like you who use our government as a springboard for your own personal gain rather than to benefit the people.

    November 9, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Toad Wet-Sprocket

    The guy recites Dr. Suess and gets on national TV. Why ? Jay Leno thought he was funny. You know a politician has arrived when his comedic rant is played out on the Senate floor , lasts for 21 hours, and gets him on the Tonight Show.

    November 9, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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