Senator Ted Cruz opened the show today:
HH: On the night of the State of the Union, drama developing today as two Navy boats have ten American sailors in the custody of, you got it, the Iranians. I’m joined by United States Senator Ted Cruz, candidate for the presidency. Senator Cruz, welcome, Happy New Year to you, great to have you. What do you think the President should say about these Iranians and these sailors tonight?
TC: Well, Hugh, great to be with you, and Happy New Year to you as well. This is obviously late-breaking, and we’ll still seeing the developing fact. Certainly, our prayers right now are with the sailors and the families of the sailors. And I think what the President should say is that the sailors are coming home, and they’re coming home right now. Now I don’t know that he will say that. And the fact that Iran feels emboldened enough to capture two U.S. Navy ships and to take ten sailors into custody is really a demonstration of the unbelievable weakness of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. We have a commander-in-chief where the bad actors in the world have learned that he will not stand up to them. Remember, this is the same Barack Obama who has sent Iran, or is trying to send them $150 billion dollars. And when you follow the path of appeasement, it only emboldens the bad actors. And our prayers are that these sailors are released, and they’re released quickly.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, I want to turn to the silliest story out there, your eligibility for the presidency. On ABC News this weekend, I said that not a single serious legal scholar had said other than that you were eligible. Immediately, they found a professor at Widener University to write for the Washington Post to argue the point, and Laurence Tribe. You must have given too good of an answer in his class. I think he’s just messing with you, Senator.
TC: (laughing) Well, listen, it is not a surprise that liberal Democratic activists, well, Laurence Tribe is a liberal Democratic activist. He is a hard-core Hillary Clinton supporter. And suddenly, Hillary Clinton supporters are rushing out to support Donald Trump’s attacks directed at me. And it starts to make you think, gosh, why are Hillary’s strongest supporters trying to prop up Donald Trump? You know, the last couple of elections, we’ve seen that the Democrats have gotten the candidates they wanted to run against in the general election. And right now, Donald is losing to Hillary by a pretty significant margin in the national polls, and I’m beating Hillary. And so we should expect liberal Democrats to continue echoing Donald’s attacks. I’m not going to engage in the back and forth, the insults. On the merits, the legal issue, is straightforward. A child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen. And the reason these attacks are happening is because other candidates, especially the Trump campaign, are getting nervous that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign. The campaign is turning more and more into a two person race between Donald and me, and they don’t like the fact that conservatives are coalescing, Evangelicals, libertarians, conservatives are all coalescing behind our campaign. If that keeps happening, if conservatives unite, we win.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, there’s only one clever argument. It’s not persuasive, but there’s only one clever argument about your eligibility. It is that President Kennedy and the Congress of the United States made Winston Churchill an honorary citizen. They did so because he had declared himself a British subject, even though his mother was English. I expect that to show up before long. What’s your response going to be when that shows up?
TC: Oh, listen, the simple fact that this question is governed by American law.
TC: And in particular, American law at the time did not pass U.S. citizenship on through the mother. It only passed it on through the father when Winston Churchill was passed. That is not American law today. And so under American law, Churchill was not a citizen at the time. That’s why he was made an honorary citizen. Under American law, I was a citizen the instant I was born. My mother was a citizen at birth. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware. And it is the act of being born that made me a U.S. citizen. I’ve never breathed a breath of air on Earth that I wasn’t an American citizen. I’ve never been naturalized. And when American soldiers are abroad, and they have children, their children are natural born citizens. That’s why John McCain was a natural born citizen, even though he was born in Panama. When American missionaries are abroad, their children are natural born citizens. That’s why George Romney, Mitt’s dad, was a natural born citizen, even though he was born in Mexico. And he ran for president in 1968. And likewise, Barry Goldwater, who was born in Arizona before Arizona was a state, was a natural born citizen, because his parents were citizens. And that’s American law under the Constitution and under federal statute. And as a legal matter, that’s the end of the matter.
HH: It is, and I want to repeat my challenge. There is not one single legal scholar of any reputation or status who has written in a peer-reviewed journal in a serious scholarly way anything other than what Senator Cruz just said. It is a non-issue. I’ll ask Reince Priebus about that later. Let’s get to some serious things. The State of the Union, Senator, we will hear the President talk about guns like we did last week.
HH: Did the President reassure you that he understood either the Heller or the McDonald decision last week? Or will he tonight?
TC: Not remotely, and this is a president who has been the most anti-gun president we have ever seen. This is a president whose prior attorney general, Eric Holder, said he viewed his job as brainwashing Americans to oppose guns. And I’ll tell you, if Hillary Clinton is elected president, the next president will get one, two, three, maybe even four Supreme Court justices. If Hillary Clinton is president, the Supreme Court will reverse Heller, and the result of that will be they will conclude that no American has any individual right to keep and bear arms whatsoever. As you know, the dissenters in Heller didn’t say that some gun control was permissible. They said that no individual has any right whatsoever, and the consequence of that is either any state or the federal government could make it a crime, a felony, for any law-abiding citizen to possess a firearm. That’s where the Democrats want to go. It’s where Barack Obama wants to go. It’s where Hillary Clinton wants to go. And I’ll tell you, I’ve been proud to defend the 2nd Amendment. There’s a reason Gun Owners of America has endorsed me in the presidential race. There’s a reason the NRA gave me their Carter night freedom fund award for being one of the leading defenders of the 2nd Amendment in the country, which is that I have a proven record of defending our right to keep and bear arms, and that’s exactly what I’ll do as president.
HH: Now Ted Cruz, last week at that forum, I thought the first few questions from Anderson Cooper, with the questions that followed from Kimberly, Taya and Sheriff Paul, were the hardest sequence of questions he has faced in seven years as president. He was visibly piqued, by the way, and he did not answer why he brings up Australia all the time. And I brought that up in the aftershow. Why do you think the President brings up Australia all the time? And he avoided answering why he did so when pressed on that issue by Anderson Cooper.
TC: Oh, listen, it’s not complicated why he brings up Australia all the time, because the President believes in confiscation. Australia confiscated handguns. The President wants to confiscate handguns. You know, California Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, has been very honest. She has said if she could say to Mr. America, Mrs. America, hand over your guns, we want them all, she would do so. That’s what Barack Obama believes. And as you know, Hugh, after Australia did that, the rate of sexual assaults, the rate of rapes, went up significantly, because women were unable to defend themselves. There’s nothing that criminals or terrorists like more than unarmed victims. And you know, in the wake of Paris, and in the wake of San Bernardino, the President gave a national TV conference like his speech tonight, where he refuses, and tonight, he will refuse to say the words radical Islamic terrorism. He will not identify the enemy. He will not effectively fight the enemy. He will not defeat the enemy. But instead, what he wants to do is attack the right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens. It is misguided, it’s wrong, and I think the American people are fed up with it. It is out of touch, and we need a commander-in-chief whose first priority is keeping America safe, not acting like a left wing law professor going after and assaulting our Constitutional rights.
HH: I’ll come back to the enemy in just a moment. I want to pause for a moment, though, on Chicago. The President brought it up in a press conference last week. Should Rahm Emmanuel resign, in your opinion, Ted Cruz?
TC: Well, sure, because his policies don’t work, and Chicago is a jurisdiction that routinely violates the rights of law-abiding citizens. You’ve seen that happen over and over again. Look, Rahm Emmanuel is the one credited with saying it’s President Obama’s strategy, you never want to waste a good fight. And he’s demonstrated a willingness to do that over and over again. But at the same time, I want to make clear President Obama and Democrats have been far too willing to vilify and demonize police officers. It started with the very beginning of the Obama administration where President Obama called the Cambridge police foolish and stupid, and sided with a Harvard professor against police officers. And the treatment of law enforcement has been abominable under President Obama. If I am elected president, that will end. Cops and firemen and first responders will have a commander-in-chief who has your back.
HH: Last question on guns. I asked Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader last week, if the President’s requests for additional FBI and ATF agents had come up during the omnibus negotiations. They did not. Are you surprised that a president who says it’s his number one priority did not even bring it up in those negotiations?
TC: You know, look, not really. President Obama has always been political and partisan on guns. You know, and in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, you know, I’m the parent of two little girls. And any parent of young children was especially horrified that some psychopath would kill little kids. And the President’s had an opportunity, then, to really lead. He could have brought Republicans and Democrats together, said let’s target violent criminals. I think we should come down on violent criminals like a ton of bricks. If we had done that, we could have actually acted to keep America safer. But instead, he followed Rahm Emmanuel’s dictate, which is that he didn’t want to waste a good crisis, and he used it as an excuse to go after the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.
HH: He certainly did. Senator, let’s turn to Benghazi.
HH: Have you seen the movie, 13 Hours, yet?
TC: You know, I haven’t. I’ve seen the previews for it. It looks fantastic. I’m looking forward to watching it, but I haven’t seen the movie, yet.
HH: Well, I think it’s going to change a lot of people’s opinions, even though Mrs. Clinton is never mentioned, or the President. And people are going to ask where were our, where were the people to help our people.
HH: And so Benghazi’s going to be an issue. We saw last week that she instructed Jake Sullivan to remove headers from classified documents. She had a lame response to John Dickerson this weekend. I stated bluntly on ABC’s This Week I think she’s going to be indicted because of violations of 18 USC 1924. What do you think the record that we have publicly, that you can comment on, tell us about her regard for the national security law?
TC: Well, there’s no doubt that the public record raises very significant questions about whether Secretary Clinton violated the law, committed criminal offenses. But I’ll tell you the saddest observation is that it is convention wisdom. If you ask anyone in Washington, D.C., whether an elected official or a reporter whether Hillary will be indicted, the answer always comes down to well, that depends on what the Obama administration decides it wants to do politically. That depends upon whether Valerie Jarrett decides as a political matter, she stays or goes. And you and I are both alums of the Department of Justice. How sad is it that our media accepts as a given the partisan corruption of the Department of Justice, that a political hack in the West Wing determines whether a criminal indictment will issue. We deserve a Department of Justice whose fidelity is not party or ideology, but its fidelity is to the laws and Constitution of the United States. And if I’m president, that’s what we will have, is a Department of Justice that upholds the law instead of just being a partisan arm of the DNC.
HH: You know, there was a Department of Justice under Richard Nixon, and I am a big fan of, and worked for President, Nixon, had three resignations, or two resignations and a consent to serve by Robert Bork when they thought the law was being toyed with. Do you expect anyone in the Bureau or the DOJ to step down if the indictments are not forthcoming on the server and the emails?
TC: Well, sadly, we’ve seen no indication of anyone at the Justice Department willing to do that. Nobody has stepped down when the Justice Department enabled President Obama’s lawlessness, defining immigration law. Remember, when President Obama was asked if he could grant amnesty, he initially said no, he doesn’t have the Constitutional authority. He said I am not an emperor. And then a few months later, partisan politics intruded, and apparently he became an emperor and did the very thing that he said only an emperor could do. No one at DOJ stepped down. Likewise, Fast and Furious, when law enforcement officers in this administration sold guns to Mexican drug cartels that were used to murder law enforcement officers, nobody stepped down. Likewise, when the IRS targeted President Obama’s political enemies, persecuted them, not only did nobody step down, but the Department of Justice assigned to head the investigation a major partisan Democratic donor who had given over $6,000 dollars to President Obama and the Democrats. They whitewashed it. They committed, by all appearances, obstruction of justice, because they obstructed a fair and impartial investigation, and no one stepped down. And so I’m sorry to say I have very little optimism that anyone will step down to yet another manifestation of partisan bias, because the Department has acquiesced in losing what has been the bipartisan integrity of the Department of Justice that goes back centuries.
HH: Let me conclude our last couple of minutes, Senator Cruz, on national security. At the last debate, I was able to ask Donald Trump and Marco Rubio about our nuclear deterrent, and the fact that it’s a three-sided triad.
HH: Where would your priority be when it comes to strengthening those legs of that triad?
TC: Right, well, there’s no doubt that strengthening the nuclear triad is critically important. It was a very good question. I was glad you asked it, Hugh. Listen, all three legs of the triad are important. You rightly noted that our long range bombers are so old that if they were people, they would quality for Social Security. But I think of the three legs, the most important is our subs, the Ohio Class subs that are within a decade of ending their useful life. The subs are the most important for projecting power. They’re the hardest for the enemy to take out. And we need a replacement for the Ohio Class submarine. You’ve been really leading on this issue a long time, Hugh. And we need to improve all three legs of the triad, but if you were to pick a top priority of the triad, for me, it would clearly be our subs.
HH: And do you think this is an issue on which you will see daylight between you and Donald Trump as to capacity and ability to earn votes?
TC: Well, I do think the most important determination that the voters are making is who is prepared to be commander-in-chief, who has the knowledge, who has the experience, who has the judgment and clarity of vision and strength and resolve to keep this country safe. And it is certainly relevant to voters. Does a potential commander-in-chief know what the nuclear triad is, much less is he or she prepared and able to strengthen it and keep this country safe? And it’s certainly relevant does a commander-in-chief understand who our enemy is, radical Islamic terrorism, understand how to defeat it not just based on what’s said on Sunday shows on TV, but actually understanding the nature of the threat and what is required to defeat it? And I believe that’s one of the reasons why support has been growing behind our campaign is that more and more Americans are looking for a commander-in-chief who’s prepared to keep America safe. And as president, there will be no higher responsibility that I would have than to keep America safe.
HH: Last question, Senator, on ABC this weekend, I said Cruz-Trump reminds me of Ali-Frazier. There were three fights in ’71, ’73, ’74. Frazier won the first, and Ali won the second two. We have three big fights coming up between Trump and Cruz in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Are you Ali, or are you Frazier?
TC: Look, we may have a Rumble in the Jungle, we may have a Thrilla in Manila, and I don’t know if I’m going to pound through or float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. But at this point, I have now used my entire repertoire of boxing analogies.
TC: Listen, what I’m going to do is what I’ve been doing in the past debates, which is to try to lay out my positive, conservative, optimistic vision for this country, and to contrast my proven record of standing up and fighting for conservative principles over and over again with the positions of other candidates who I think have been campaign conservatives. They talk a good game on the trail, but they haven’t walked the walk. And I think as we get closer and closer to election day, more and more Americans are saying talk is cheap, I’m not interested in someone who’s discovered they oppose Obamacare once they’re a candidate for president. I’ve interested in who’s led the fight against Obamacare. I’m not interested in someone who’s discovered illegal immigration is a problem, who has discovered we should stop amnesty only when they become a candidate for president. They’re interested in someone who has stood and led the fight against Barack Obama’s amnesty, and who won. And all of those, I have done.
HH: Senator Ted Cruz, thanks for joining us from the campaign trail. We’ll talk again before the Iowa Caucuses. Thank you, Senator, enjoy the speech tonight.
TC: Thank you, Hugh, and God bless.
End of interview.