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Senator Cruz On Putin – No One Should Be Intimidated Staring Down A Thug

Monday, February 10, 2014

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HH: I begin this week of broadcasting, the Olympic week of broadcasting, with one of our favorite freestylers, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Senator Cruz, how are you? Welcome.

TC: Thank you, Hugh. It’s always great to join you.

HH: Now I am watching the skiing freestyle in the back here. I should be doing show prep, and instead, I was watching the Olympics. Are you watching much of the Olympics, Senator Cruz?

TC: You know, I’ll confess I have been on the road so much that I haven’t had a chance to sit down and turn the television on.

HH: Well, I’ve got to ask you, even you can’t go an hour without seeing Putin. When you see Putin, what do you think, Senator Cruz?

TC: Look, I think the direction he is taking Russia is very problematic. It’s problematic for Russia, it’s problematic for America, and for the world. He is systematically oppressing his people, but he is also taking advantage of President Obama’s foreign policy blunders to expand Russia influence, and I think he is bound and determined to do as much as he can to expand Russia’s sphere of influence and attempt to reassemble the old Soviet Union. You see the pressure they’re putting on Georgia, you see the pressure they’re putting on Ukraine. It’s dangerous, and unfortunately, President Obama is doing nothing effectively to counteract it.

HH: Now a young President Kennedy went to negotiate with Khrushchev in Vienna long ago and far away, and the measure that Khrushchev took of the young former Senator was not good, and we had the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you or any other young American leader sat down with Putin, I mean, this is a tough character. Do you think you could actually negotiate with him?

TC: Well, the only negotiations that a Putin or any other bully understands is a negotiation from strength, and that, unfortunately, is not something that the Obama administration has ever tried. In fact, they seem to systematically alienate our friends, abandon our friends and accommodate and appease our enemies. And so listen, you don’t have to like someone to negotiate with them, but the only negotiation that can be effective with Putin is a negotiation from strength.

HH: Now what I’m raising here, obviously, is the question that we’re going to talk about in a second, because the Washington Post has a story of you going to Iowa in a little bit. But there’s a Putin test out there for anyone who would be president…

TC: Sure.

HH: …which is can I imagine them sitting down across from Putin. Can you imagine yourself doing that and not being intimidated by a KGB colonel-turned dictator?

TC: You know, there’s very little that should be intimidating about a thug. And I guess I view this from the perspective of being the son of someone who fled from oppression from Cuba. And what Putin is doing in Russia is, bares similarities to what Castro has done to Cuba, and where…

HH: Sure, it does.

TC: …many, many oppressive dictators…if you disagree with the regime, you know, 2012 was the worst human rights year on record for Russia. Human rights have gone out the window, and sadly, the United States has been all but silent speaking out against the human rights violations. I think the proper model is the model that Ronald Reagan displayed when he had, number one, the willingness just to speak the truth. So when he described the Soviet Union as an evil empire, and he said Marxism-Leninism would end up on the ash heap of history, all of the congnizetti, and the intellectual chattering class, derided him as a simpleton and not understanding nuance. When he said his strategy in the Cold War was we win, they lose, that wasn’t deemed nearly as sophisticated as detente, which I’ve often joked, I think the word is French for surrender. And most importantly, when Reagan stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate and uttered the most important words any modern leader has uttered, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” speaking truth to evil and to oppression is something the United States has a long history of doing, and it has power. And sadly, the last five years, we have not been doing that.

HH: Now one of the things that Putin has done to increase the power of Mother Russia is explore, exploit and use his leverage, his energy.

TC: Yes.

HH: And today, the Washington Post has a story about you saying that the GOP needs to think bigger than Keystone. And I say amen to this. Why we are not hydraulic fracking from onshore-offshore on the Pacific Coast, I am mystified by this, Ted Cruz. How quickly could the United States turn on this dime and begin to explore and exploit environmentally, in an environmentally sensitive way, it’s energy resources?

TC: Right. We have an extraordinary opportunity right now. Let me say number one, the top priority of Americans all over this country is restoring jobs and economic growth. That’s what I hear all across the state of Texas, and it’s what I hear all over the country, is that Americans want jobs and economic growth back. In the U.S. Senate right now, Harry Reid Senate, we don’t even talk about jobs and economic growth. And it is truly a providential blessing that at a time when there is so much need for restored economic growth, we had the lowest labor force participation since 1978, we have an American energy renaissance that is blossoming right in front of us, that is being driven by the private, that is producing jobs, producing economic growth, and yet this administration is consistently acting to stifle it. and so today, I rolled out the outlines of a bill that I’ll be introducing, the American Energy Renaissance Act, that number one, will serve to prevent the federal government from undermining the American energy renaissance, that will prevent the federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, improve domestic refining capacity, improve energy infrastructure, build the Keystone Pipeline, stop the war on coal, and number two, that would expand energy development, open up federal lands, open offshore, expand U.S. energy exports and use the revenue that all of this will generate to pay into a trust fund to pay down our national debt. Now that’s the sort of aggressive, positive, pro-growth agenda that conservatives should stand for, and frankly, the Democrats ought to stand for, because growth benefits everybody.

HH: Now you’re also in the Washington Post this afternoon from our friend, Robert Costa, their new wizard reporter, as agreeing to speak at a home schooling rally in Iowa next month. As Robert says, “signaling his continued interest in a possible 2016 presidential bid.” Is that what we should read into a home schooling rally/visit by Ted Cruz?

TC: Well, I am a huge supporter of home schoolers, and a passionate advocate of school choice. It’s been a real passion of mine for a couple of decades now, Hugh, and it’s, there is, or should be, a real urgency to expanding the options to improve educational outcomes for kids. And so I’m honored to have the chance to stand with home schoolers…

HH: What do you think about Common Core?

TC: I think Common Core is a disaster. I think it is a deliberate effort by the federal government to dictate the terms of curriculums at the local level. And in my view, education, decisions about the curricula should be made at the state level, or even better, at the local level so they reflect the parents’ values and morays. They shouldn’t be dictated by some anonymous bureaucrat at the Department of Education.

HH: Now I’ve got to ask a political question. Our friend, your friend, Rick Perry, is clearly running for president. You’re from Texas and you’re going to Iowa. Can two Texans run for president at the same time?

TC: Well, I mean, to be fair, last time you had two Texans running. You had Rick Perry and Ron Paul both running. And so, and you had two Georgians with Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain, so I guess races can get crowded sometimes.

HH: And so we shouldn’t just say Ron Johnson can’t run because Scott Walker’s going to run, and we can’t say Ted Cruz can’t run because Rick Perry’s going to run?

TC: Well, look, I’ll tell you, I like Rick Perry. He’s a friend of mine. I think he’s been a good governor. And in my view, what we ought to be focused on now is not the politics of races that might come in the future. What we ought to be focused on now is leading to pull this country back from the fiscal and economic…

HH: Okay, that leads me to my last question, and in a minute, the Obama…I don’t know what Obamacare is anymore. I’ll spend most of today’s show talking about this, because they changed it again.

TC: Yup.

HH: The Supreme Court litigator, the Constitutional scholar that you are, at what point does the Court have to confront that this is at its heart lawlessness?

TC: Well, they certainly should, and they have, to some extent. And I think they will continue doing so. It is exactly that. It is lawlessness. We’ve never seen a president who if he disagrees with a federal law simply says he will refuse to follow it or asserts the power to unilaterally change it. There is no precedent in the history of our republic for that. With Obamacare, he unilaterally granted an exemption for big business. Nothing in the statute gives him the authority to do it. It contradicts the plain text of the statute. He unilaterally granted an exemption for members of Congress, directly contrary to the law. And most strikingly, when over 5 million people had their health insurance cancelled because of Obamacare, President Obama didn’t do what 43 presidents who preceded him would have done, which is go to Congress, say this federal law isn’t working, it’s hurting millions of people, let’s change it. He just held a press conference and instructed private insurance companies, violate the law. That is unprecedented, and it’s dangerous.

HH: Ted Cruz, it is always a pleasure, Senator. Talk to you again soon.

End of interview.

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