Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller guest hosting.
JW: On the phone right now is Senator Ted Cruz, the Senator from Texas running for president. Senator Cruz, thanks for joining us.
TC: Jamie, it’s great to be with you, and I have to say, I kind of like hearing you come in to Hugh’s Game of Thrones music. It’s a good sound.
JW: Well, so do I. Let’s start, Senator, with what happened on the Senate floor yesterday. You were trying to get a roll call vote. You weren’t able to get anyone to join you with that. Or explain to me what exactly happened.
TC: Well, what, I introduced an amendment to the continuing resolution that would have funded the entire federal government, but that would have made two changes. First of all, it would have provided no taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood. The Democrats were insisting on $500 million dollars of taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood. Mind you, Planned Parenthood is a private organization. It’s not part of the federal government. It is currently under multiple investigations after being filmed apparently committing a pattern of felonies, illegally selling the body parts of unborn children. And so it ought to be a simple proposition that we shouldn’t be spending taxpayer funds on a private organization being investigated for criminal conduct. That was one component of the amendment. The second component of the amendment was prohibiting funds to implement this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. The threat of a nuclear Iran is the single greatest national security threat facing America. And in my view, the Congress should use the power of the purse to prevent the Ayatollah Khamenei from receiving $100 billion dollars that he will use to fund jihadists that will murder Americans. So I introduced that amendment. Unfortunately, Republican leadership defeated that amendment, and it is Republican leadership who made the decision to fund all of Barack Obama’s agenda and to do nothing whatsoever with the legislative power of the purse. I think that was a mistake.
JW: Well, let me ask you to respond. Rand Paul made some comments. He’s not exactly part of Republican leadership, referring to you, it’s pretty harsh. He said he is pretty much done for and stifled, and it’s really because of personal relationships or lack of personal relationships. And it’s a problem, suggesting that you might have gone farther if you had better personal relationships on the Republican side.
TC: Oh, I like Rand Paul. I respect him. He’s a friend of mind. He and I have been side by side on many fights for liberty. The attacks he directed at me are not terribly surprising, particularly given that Rand campaigned for Mitch McConnell, and that Mitch McConnell in turn has endorsed Rand for president. But I have no intention of responding in kind to Rand’s attacks. I like and respect him. He’s a good man.
JW: Well, let me ask you this, and I have to ask you what some critics are saying, certainly in Washington. And as you know, Senator, you have some critics in Washington. I think you might take that as a badge of honor. But they say if Ted Cruz can’t build relationships with the Republicans in the Senate to achieve his goals, how, if he’s elected president, will he be able to achieve his agenda working with Congress, Democrats and Republicans?
TC: You know, Jamie, I’ve got to say that’s precisely the wrong measure. Washington is fundamentally broken. You know, I’ve said many times on the campaign trail. If you think Washington is doing great, that we need to continue going in the same direction, just kind of fiddle around the edges, then I ain’t your guy. On the other hand, if you think Washington is fundamentally broken, that there is a bipartisan corruption of career politicians in both parties that get in bed with lobbyists and special interests, and grow and grow and grow government, and that we need to bring power out of Washington, and back to we the people, that’s what my campaign is all about. And so I reject the premise that what we need in Washington is yet another politician to go cut deals with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, to grow government, to fund Obamacare, to fund executive amnesty, to fund Planned Parenthood, and to fund the most dangerous and catastrophic international deal since Munich in 1938, that that is not what we need. What we need is like 1980. We need strong, principled leadership that gets us back to the core principles that our country was built on. And right now, Republican leadership is refusing to fight for those principles, and I don’t shy away at all from standing up to anyone, Democrat or Republican, always doing it with civility and respect, but standing up and speaking the truth and saying we need to solve the real problems that are facing this country.
JW: But Senator, let me ask again, though. But if you are elected president, do you think you could, I know that a lot of people you believe in the Republicans and Democrats in Congress are kind of corrupt, but don’t you need to build relationships in order to get your agenda passed as president?
TC: Jamie, it’s a fundamental misdiagnosis of what’s wrong. Listen, my entire time in Washington, I have endeavored not to speak ill of any Senator, Republican or Democrat. Just a minute ago, you read an attack from Rand Paul against me. My response was not only not to respond in kind, but to sing his praises. And that’s how I’ve approached both Republicans and Democrats. None of this is personal. The media loves to characterize it as a battle of personalities, as a soap opera. Look, I think most Americans could not care less about a bunch of politicians in Washington bickering like schoolchildren. It doesn’t matter, and so if others attack me, I don’t reciprocate. I will not throw rocks. But what I will do is speak the truth, because the truth is right now conservatives, we keep winning elections, and the people we elect don’t stand up and honor the promises they made. It’s why there is this volcanic frustration with Washington. You know, it’s interesting, Jamie, you watched the presidential debates. Every one of the Republican candidates stands up and says they will stand up and fight Washington. Well, I appreciate all of them expressing those sentiments. But I think the natural next question that primary voters are asking is okay, who has a record of actually doing it, of standing up not just to Democrats, but to leaders in their own party? And you know what was striking, as I was leading the fight to stop taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, and to stop the funding for the Iran deal, none of the other ten very fine individuals who were standing on that debate stage was anywhere to be found. None of them were actually there in the battle trying to get it done. I think if we’re going to turn the country around, we need a leader who is not afraid to take on leaders of his own party and the Democrats, and say we’re going to stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids, we’re going to get back to the Constitution, and we’re going to restore America’s leadership in the world.
JW: I want to move to immigration, Senator, but before I do, you know, we just saw John Boehner announce that he will be stepping down as Speaker in October. Do you think it’s time for Mitch McConnell to leave his role as leader of the Senate Republicans?
TC: Well, that’s a question for Mitch to decide, and for the Republican conference to decide. What I think is important is that we have Republican leadership in both houses that actually honors the commitments we made to the voters, that treats seriously the promises. Look, people are tired of being lied to. Every September, October, November, Republican politicians promise the Moon. And then once Election Day comes by, they say we could accomplish nothing. And let me explain the fundamental imbalance. Right now in Washington, you have one side, the Democrats, who is passionately committed to advancing their principles. And so Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, they will crawl over broken glass with a knife between their teeth. Like the Terminator, Obama will never give up. He will never stop. And on the other side, you have Republican leadership that approaches every battle by surrendering at the outset, saying we give up. And Jamie, here’s how this plays out. It starts with a very innocuous statement that Republican leaders have said, which is we will never have a shutdown. And I will readily admit to a casual observer, that sounds like a very reasonable thing to say. The problem is when the other side is comprised of zealots and radicals, Obama understands now that all he has to do is whisper the word shutdown, and Republican leaders will run for the hills and surrender on everything. So Obama declares if you don’t fund 100% of Obamacare, if you don’t do nothing for the millions of people hurting under this failed law, I will veto the entire federal government budget and shut the government down. And Republican leadership says we surrender, we’ll fund Obamacare. He does the same thing on amnesty. They say great, we’ll fund amnesty. He does the same thing on Planned Parenthood. They say great, we’ll fund Planned Parenthood. He does the same thing on Iran. And I would note, Republican leaders have been saying the same thing I’ve been saying, which is that this is the greatest threat to national security in the world, that these billions of dollars going to the Ayatollah Khamenei will go to jihadists and be used to murder Americans. If we really believe that, shouldn’t we be willing to use any and all Constitutional authority we have to protect this nation? Is there any higher obligation for elected officials? And yet, what does Republican leadership say? At the outset, we surrender. Obama said shutdown, so never mind, we’ll fund everything he’s doing. It’s why the American people are frustrated.
JW: Senator, got to check out now, but just real quick, you have no position on McConnell stepping down? You don’t have a position on that?
TC: That is for him. What I do have a position on is I encourage your listeners to go to www.tedcruz.org. September 30th, today, is the end of our quarter, so please sign up, contribute, September 30th, www.tedcruz.org.
JW: Well, thank you so much, Senator, for joining us.
End of interview.