Senator Ted Cruz joined me on the show today on the eve of Super Tuesday:
HH: As we hurdle toward Super Tuesday, Part I, tomorrow, all eyes are on the great state of Texas and the other Super Tuesday states. I am joined by United States Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, always a pleasure to speak with you.
TC: Hugh, it’s always great to be with you, thank you for having me.
HH: I was in the green room yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I want to talk about your interview with that. But first, Mitt Romney tweeted out today a disqualifying and disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America. What’s your response to that tweet, Ted Cruz?
TC: Well, listen, I thought it was very sad when Donald was asked about the KKK, and asked about David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK endorsing him, that Donald was not willing to denounce the Klan. I mean, this ought to be something that should be easy, that should bring all of us together. The Klan is repugnant. Racism and bigotry has no place in our society, and I thought it was disappointing that Donald was unwilling to say that when he was asked about it.
HH: Now Joe Scarborough also used that term disqualifying on Morning Joe this morning. That is, it’s a very loaded term. It means you can’t be the nominee. Do you agree with that?
TC: Well, listen, I think that it is revealing of a willingness to traffic in some very ugly sentiments. You know, we’ve, there’s also been robo-calls that have been playing in early primary states of some white nationalists urging people to vote for Trump, and saying don’t vote for anyone Cuban, and you know, making a very explicit appeal to racial and ethnic prejudice. And you know, Donald has not denounced those also, that those have no place in politics. And you know, we’ve had seven years of President Obama dividing us on racial and ethnic lines. The last thing we need is a president who tries to inflame those. And this ought to be something that brings everyone together, that bigotry is not welcome in our public life.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, tomorrow these remarks and this back and forth, I don’t know if they’re going to have sunk in. But I compare the Jake Tapper interview that Donald Trump gave to Mitt Romney’s unfortunate 47% comment, and Gerald Ford’s Poland is free debate, or Hillary Clinton saying she left the White House a pauper. These are major moments in campaigns. What does Donald have to do to get back in the ring after doing that?
TC: You know, I’ve joked that there are not many iron rules in politics. But one that you can count on 100% of the time is the Klan? Always bad. Nazis? Always bad. You’ll just, you’ll never go wrong with that rule. Either the Klan or Nazis, bad, bad, bad. And it seems somehow that Donald missed that briefing.
HH: Now the next debate you’ve got with Fox, then we’ll be back on the stage again on March 10th. There is suggested that Donald Trump may be skipping these. What would the effect be of that?
TC: Well, listen, he has a hard time in debates. He has a hard time, because it’s the only time he’s actually called to defend his record. You know, I think one of the most stunning moments of the debate last week was the question you asked on religious liberty and the Supreme Court. And as you’ll recall, Donald turned to me and said Ted, you know, I know a lot more politicians than you do, which he’s right. He has been supporting financially liberal Democratic politicians for 40 years. And he said you’ve got to be willing to compromise. You’ve got to be willing to work with others. And let me tell you right now. I’ll tell you this, and I’ll tell all your listeners this. I will never compromise away your religious liberty. I will never compromise away your 2nd Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. And what Donald told us is that he is running to be a Washington deal maker, and that when it comes to Justice Scalia’s replacement, Donald Trump intends to sit down with Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and cut a deal. And any justice that Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid sign off on is going to be a liberal activist who will assault our religious liberty, and who will effectively erase the 2nd Amendment from the Bill of Rights. We don’t need a president who views the Bill of Rights as yet, and the Constitution, as yet another thing to be compromised away in Washington deals.
HH: Now I know you’ve been in the air, Senator, so I don’t know if you’ve seen the Ben Smith story at Buzzfeed about…
HH: …a secret tape of the conservation between Donald Trump and the New York Times Editorial Board on immigration. Have you read that story, yet?
TC: I have read the story, and Donald needs to release the tape. The story suggests that Donald Trump, during the presidential campaign, went to the New York Times Editorial Board and essentially said don’t worry about the stuff I’m saying on immigration. I don’t believe it, and I’m not going to do it. That’s what the story suggests. The New York Times has a tape of this. Donald needs to call and allow the New York Times to release that tape. They’ve said they won’t release it without Donald’s permission. So the voters on Super Tuesday need to know. Is Donald Trump telling the New York Times that he still supports amnesty? Listen, we know that he funded the Gang of 8, the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill, that of the eight members of the Gang of 8, Donald Trump gave five of them a total of over $50,000. But this story suggests that not only was he in 2013 funding open border Democrats, but even now as a candidate for president, the story suggests that he’s telling the New York Times Editorial Board I don’t believe what I’m saying, I’m just saying it to convince the voters to vote for me, but I’m going to go back on it the instance I get elected. If that’s the case, the voters deserve to know it, and it needs to be made public.
HH: So you’re calling on him to call the New York Times to release the tape?
TC: It would, yes, absolutely. It was allegedly an off-the-record conversation, but they have an audiotape of it. And the New York Times said since it was off the record, they will not release it unless Donald gives permission. Now there are one of two possibilities. One, he didn’t say this, in which case it’s in Donald’s interest to release the tapes to demonstrate that he didn’t say this. Or secondly, and what I think is much more likely, he did say this, that he did tell the New York Times Editorial Board I don’t believe what I’m saying on immigration, I’m just saying it because I think it’ll help with the voters. And if that’s what Donald said, then the Super Tuesday voters deserve to know it, and we deserve to know it before tomorrow, because there have been too many politicians who lie to us. It’s why people are so angry, is Washington deal makers lie to us. Now Donald has been a Washington deal maker his entire life. But if he is telling the New York Times right now that I, Donald Trump, am lying about immigration even today, the voters deserve to know it.
HH: So Ted Cruz, you’ve been charged by some of your followers as waiting too long to swing at Donald Trump. Do you regret the relative peace that was kept throughout the fall of 2015?
TC: Well, listen, for a long time, I’ve been the only person willing to take Donald on, and that has been true for many, many weeks. I was glad to see in the last debate suddenly, Marco Rubio had joined me. He had been afraid to take on Donald. And he suddenly, I was glad to welcome him to the party. But you know, at this point for Super Tuesday, voters have a clear choice. You know, 65% of Republicans nationwide recognize that Donald Trump is not the best candidate to go head to head with Hillary Clinton, that Donald loses to Hillary Clinton. If we nominate Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will win, we will in all likelihood lose the Senate, and we will lose up and down the ballot. And in Super Tuesday, what is abundantly clear is that our campaign is the only campaign that has beat and that can beat Donald Trump. And so if you’re one of the 65% of Republicans who recognize that nominating a liberal New York Democrat to run against another liberal New York Democrat is not a path to victory, then I ask you come together and join us, because on Super Tuesday, we are running neck and neck with Donald all across the Super Tuesday states. And if you’re thinking of supporting some of the other candidates, listen, there are good people in this race, people who I like, people I respect, people who are friends of mine. But no other campaign is in a position to win on Super Tuesday to beat Donald Trump. And if you don’t want Donald Trump to be the nominee, I ask you to stand with us, because if we stand united, Super Tuesday is going to be a very, very good day, and we will have a principled conservative who does what he says, who we can trust to stand with the working men and women against the bipartisan corruption of Washington.
HH: So in essence, I think I hear you saying A) Ted Cruz people turn out, and even if you’re not a Ted Cruz person, vote strategically for me if you’re a Rubio, a Carson or a Kasich person, because I’m your best ticket to the next Super Tuesday.
TC: Look, I think that is exactly right. If you don’t want Donald Trump to be the nominee, we have got to beat him on Super Tuesday. And the only campaign that has a shot of beating him on Super Tuesday is our campaign. We’re very, very strong in Texas, and we are competing neck and neck in Super Tuesday states all across this country. If we stand together, we will beat Donald Trump.
HH: Now I’d like to switch over to the topic of the tax returns, which came up yesterday on ABC.
HH: But before I do, Trump Mortgage and Trump University. The Trump Mortgage came up today in the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler writing a very long story about that. Have you read that story, yet, Senator Cruz?
TC: I have not read that particular story, no.
HH: Then I’ll put it aside. It raises additional issues about Donald Trump that I would look forward to asking him on the debate stage or in an interview before then. Again, this show remains Switzerland. Everyone is welcome here. Trump University, is that an issue in your mind?
TC: Look, I think it is a significant potential exposure. There is a major fraud lawsuit that is scheduled to go to trial this summer. If you’re a Republican primary voter, what do you think it would look like to have the Republican nominee, weeks after he wins the nomination, sitting on the sand at a trial being cross-examined for fraud? You don’t think the mainstream media will put that on the 6:00 News every night, that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats will laugh all the way to the ballot box? And the fact that, you know, Donald’s own lawyers asked for this trial to be scheduled this summer, which is right after the nomination would have happened. And it’s one of the many reasons why Donald as the nominee makes Hillary’s election all the more likely. And the mainstream media has so much on Donald that they’re not using. They’re not hitting him now. They’re holding back on all of it, because they want us to nominate him, and then they will just rip him apart. Listen, 60% of Americans have a negative view. Donald has not been able to get above 40%. If he’s the nominee, in all likelihood, we elect Hillary and we lose the Supreme Court for a generation. We lose the Bill of Rights, and we continue to be mired in this economic stagnation we’ve been in for the last seven years.
HH: Well, let’s turn to the tax returns, then. When I was flying back from New York yesterday, Mitt Romney tweeted out, I had not seen this until today, @realDonaldTrump facts are stubborn. I released my back taxes on January 24th, 2012. No excuse for hiding your back taxes. Yesterday, you suggested a number of things. But have you, you have put yours out now, correct, Senator?
TC: I have put out nine years of taxes, so going back nine years. Marco Rubio has put out his taxes, and Donald Trump refuses to put out his. And as Mitt Romney rightly observed, that suggests that there is a bombshell in there that he is hiding, and he doesn’t want the voters to see.
HH: Now you referenced to George Stephanopoulos mob ties yesterday, and I, that was news to me. And I subsequently went and found a CNN story that pointed to concrete, I’m not really sure what the details are. What were you referring to?
TC: Well, the fact that he won’t hand over his taxes raises the natural inference, all right, what is it that he’s hiding? It may be that he’s hiding that he doesn’t make nearly as much money as he wants everyone to think he does, that you know, he talks a lot about how rich he is, and maybe that’s simply not true. Maybe he’s not nearly as rich as he says. Maybe it’s the case that Mitt Romney is richer than Donald Trump. We don’t know, and maybe that’s why he’s embarrassed to release his taxes, because it would show that. On the other hand, it could be that he has been contributing to left wing causes. We know that he’s given to liberal Democrats like Jimmy Carter, like Hillary Clinton, like Chuck Schumer, like Harry Reid, like John Kerry, like Joe Biden. We know he’s done that for 40 years. But it may be that his taxes show that he’s also been supporting liberal Democratic caucus, for example, that he’s, it may be that he’s been supporting Planned Parenthood, giving them thousands or even millions of dollars to fund abortions. We don’t know that. Maybe that’s what he is embarrassed about if it would be revealed, or the alternative. There have been a number of media stories, stories on ABC, stories on CNN, stories in the Washington Post about Donald’s alleged business involvement with the Mafia, and in particular, Trump Plaza Condos were built using a company, S&A Concrete, that was owned by two of the leading Mafiosos in New York – Fat Tony Salerno, the head of one of the New York crime families, the head of another, Paul Castellano, the head of another New York crime family, together own this company that Donald has done business with. And it may be the case that his tax returns show more extensive involvement with mob figures than has been publicly reported. We don’t know, and Donald can answer all of these questions simply by releasing his taxes as every other candidate for president has done.
HH: All right, last two questions, Senator, I know you’re running. Mr. Trump suggested that the libel standard of New York Times V. Sullivan be loosened. I’m cleaning up and condensing his language there. I think that’s what he was suggesting. And he was disrupted today by Black Lives Matter. It got very rough. Secret Service agent took down a photographer. I expect you will be protested by Black Lives Matter. On both of those issues, what do you make of Donald Trump’s call for a change of the libel law standard? And how will you respond when your rallies are protested by Black Lives Matter?
TC: Well, listen, we have seen a pattern with Donald over the years of using money and power to intimidate and attack working people, to intimidate and attack ordinary people. So whether this was using power of eminent domain to try to get the Atlantic City politicians to bulldoze the home of a little, old lady, of a widow, because he wanted to knock down her home and build a parking lot for limousines for his casino, or when it comes to using money and power threatening lawsuits. If anyone criticizes Donald, he threatens to sue them. So he’s telling the press he’s going to try to change the law to make it easier to go after and attack the press for reporting anything negative about him. And it’s a pattern of bullying where over and over again, he sides with the rich and powerful. Remember, Donald Trump agrees with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the Wall Street bailout, the TARP bailout of giant Wall Street banks. And the loser is always the working man and women. You know, I’ll give an example, Hugh, that was very, very direct. You know, I received from Donald a cease and desist letter where he threatened to sue me. And it was for running a TV ad that showed video of him on Meet the Press describing himself as very, very pro-choice, describing himself as supporting partial birth abortion and being pro-choice at every respect. And Donald sent a legal paper threatening a lawsuit saying it was defamation to run an ad that consists of his own words that he said on national television. And by the way, I encourage him, please sue me, because as you know, Hugh, truth is a complete defense in any defamation suit, and I look forward to taking that deposition of Donald Trump or cross-examining him on the stand about his own record and his own lifelong support of liberal Democrats. But all of these are a pattern of being willing to bully anyone who stands up to him. And that does not bode well for anyone that wants to be a president if you’re willing to use power to go against working men and women in this country.
HH: And the last question about Black Lives Matter, how will you respond when they disrupt, as is inevitable, your gatherings?
TC: Oh, listen, we’ve had protesters many, many times. And you have a right to free speech. I am a passionate defender of the Bill of Rights, including free speech. But free speech does not include the right to disrupt and shut down the speech of others. And so if you have protesters who are being disruptive, they are typically removed from the protest. Now there have been incidents, you know, I mean, more than once with protesters. I’ve actually engaged them in a civil discourse, and if they’re willing to engage in a civil discourse, I’ve done that a number of times. And you know, in fact, a number of months ago, I was part of a rally outside the White House focusing on the Americans who were held hostage in Iran. And Code Pink came and protested, tried to shout down our rally. And I actually called them up and said I’ll tell you what. The 1st Amendment doesn’t give you a right to shout us down and silence others. But if you want to have a discussion, come on up here. I’ll invite you to the microphone. And we had what was about a 20 or 25 minute debate with the founder of Code Pink, the left wing organization, where she laid out her views in support of Iran, and in support of the President’s catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal, and I laid out the other side of it. It’s something you may want to Google and watch, because I’ve got to tell you, it actually is how I think civil discourse should operate, where if you speak respectfully, and treat each other with civility, you could actually focus on issues that matter. But if you’re just being disruptive, then a protester should be removed if they’re just trying to shout down others.
HH: That sounds like a Lincoln-Douglas debate. I hope you thought that our debate last week was getting better than the ones before, and I’m certainly looking forward to our March 10 wrap up before the next Super Tuesday, Senator Cruz. I’ll see you in Miami, and there’s one even before that, isn’t there?
TC: There is. There’s one in Michigan before that. The last one was very good. I thought it provided a great deal of clarity, that if you want a Washington deal maker, if you want someone to go to Washington and cut deals, you’ve got choices. You’ve got Marco Rubio, who has done that, who went to Washington and cut deals with Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer to push for amnesty. Or you’ve got Donald Trump who is promising to go to Washington and cut deals with Democrats. If you want that, that’s your choice, but listen, it is the Washington deals that have gotten us in this mess. And if you want a principled conservative who will do what he says, you know, Donald Trump has told us that he will be a totally different person after he gets elected. You know what, Hugh? I’ll be the exact same person the day after I’m elected that I am today. And we are tired of politicians who lie to us. And I think the debate provided some very clear distinctions. We saw a clear distinction on foreign policy. On foreign policy, Donald Trump agrees with Hillary Clinton that America should be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. If I am president, we will not be neutral. America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel. Donald Trump agrees with Hillary Clinton that we should expand Obamacare to make it socialized medicine, to put the government in charge of your and my health care. And you know every place on Earth where we’ve had socialized medicine, it results in rationing, results in the federal government deciding whether you get that hip replacement, whether you get that knee replacement, what kind of end of life care you get. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think we need more Washington deals. I think we need a principled conservative. And Super Tuesday is the most important day of this whole primary. So I would encourage you if you don’t want a Washington deal maker to grow the debt, to expand Obamacare, to compromise away our Bill of Rights and our fundamental liberties, then I ask you to stand with us, come out and vote tomorrow, and not only that, pick up the phone and call your friends, call your neighbors, call anyone else you know to stand together, because tomorrow is going to be a critical, critical day.
HH: Senator Ted Cruz, always a pleasure. I’ll see you, if not before then, on the stage in Miami.
TC: Thank you, Hugh, God bless.
HH: Thank you, Senator.
End of interview.