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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Senator Ted Cruz On His New Book “A Time For Truth,” The Opening Of An Embassy In Havana, The Looming Appeasement Of Iran

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Senator Ted Cruz joined me today to discuss his new book A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Miracle of America




HH: I’m so pleased to now welcome United States Senator Ted Cruz, whose brand new book, A Time For Truth: Reigniting The Promise Of America, published by Broadside. Senator Cruz, how are you?

TC: Hugh, great to be with you.

HH: You know, this book bears all the earmarks of you actually having written it yourself.

TC: Well, guilty as charged. This book represents thousands of my hours and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears. This was not your typical candidate’s book that’s ghostwritten. You know, sometimes I think political candidates may not have even read their own book. This is not one of those.

HH: You know, on Page 44, this is a line which every book should have. “Joe got a shotgun and a baseball bat, and took off in his car looking for me.”

TC: (laughing) Well, and that’s a true story from when I was 15 and when out with a buddy of mine to an arcade late at night. And we got jumped by four guys who beat the living daylights out of me. And Joe was married to my sister, and he thought I was missing, so he got a shotgun and a baseball bat, and took in a truck looking for me.

HH: Well, it’s a great memoir. And I believe with U.S. Grant that you want to know about a man when he’s young, not what he says when he’s running for office. And I appreciate the detail, and we’ll go through that. But I’m going to ask first, has Justice Willett begun to tweet his review of A Time For Truth, yet?

TC: (laughing) You know, I don’t think Donny Ray has, yet, but I may have to prompt him. I’ve never seen a book review in tweets, but if anyone could do it, Don Willett can do it.

HH: I’m pretty sure that’s coming. Let’s start with you, I didn’t know your ancestry. Augustine and Maria Cruz come to Cuba in 1902 from the Canary Islands. And isn’t America wonderful? You’re running for president. And they were 112 years ago, 113 years ago, in the Canary Islands.

TC: Yeah, I mean, it’s an extraordinary, the promise of our nation is remarkable. My grandfather grew up working on a sugar plantation in Cuba. He left when he was a teenager, got to go to the beach. But a bus came along, offered people $5 dollars and a sandwich to go to a political rally, and he took the $5 dollar sandwich and never came back. And he went to work at a fruit stand on the beach in Cuba, slept on the floor, and over time, saved up enough money to buy the fruit stand, eventually expanded to a grocery store. And then my dad, growing up in Cuba, one of the things the book details is how parts of his life were idyllic. You know, he’d go to baseball games he’d go fishing with his dad. I tell a story of when my dad was a teenager, he went fishing for a shark in a little rowboat with a buddy of his, and much to his great misfortune, he caught the shark. And the shark proceeded to ram the boat and put a hole in the boat. And so he and his buddy, they cut the line and were bailing and rowing, and bailing and rowing, and it sank a couple of blocks from shore. And they were both terrified there was a ticked off shark coming to eat them.

HH: Yeah, I met your father this past weekend, as I told you on Monday. And if I had known, if I had read your book already, I would have looked at his hands to see where the scars from the 44 pound test line were, because evidently, he showed them to you a few times.

TC: Well, that was, they would fish all the time, usually from the beach or from a dock, but they didn’t tend to use fishing poles. They would just use a monofilament, basically fishing line wrapped around a stick or wrapped around something else. And so when you’re pulling in a fish and holding onto the line, it could be a thick monofilament, but it would cut your fingers, and so my dad and my grandfather, the way they would tell fishing stories is they’d show the cuts on their fingers. And the bigger the cut, the bigger the fish must have been that you were pulling in.

HH: I’ve also got to say before the break, Ted Cruz, and this book is linked over at Your grandmother was born in County Tipperary. Your mother’s from Delaware. Does Joe Biden know this? You two are paisans.

TC: Well, it’s actually a funny story, Hugh. When I was sworn in, my mom was there, and Joe Biden as Vice President swore me into the Senate. And my mother mentioned that she has a ton of cousins in Delaware, her mother was second youngest of 17 kids, and Joe with a twinkle in his eye, he said oh, they probably all voted for me.

HH: Well…

TC: And you know what? My mom laughed and said you know what, you’re probably right.

HH: But your grandfather’s from Pennsylvania. When we come back from break, we’ve got to go to a hard break. Senator Ted Cruz is my guest. His brand new book, A Time For Truth, is out. It is an entertaining memoir, but it has a rock-ribbed center of his political views. We’ll talk about that when we come back.

— – – —

HH: Senator Cruz, it’s ironic that your book would publish today given how much of Cuba is in the beginning, both in the story of your father, Rafael, your grandfather, Rafael, your mother, Laudelina Diaz, your father’s middle name is Bienvenido. It’s all about Cuba for a while, and today, an embassy was reopened in Havana. In the first segment of today’s show, Mike Huckabee told me we have no reason to have a Havana Embassy, because they continue to hold prisoners there. What is your reaction? You walked out on Raul Castro at the Mandela funeral. You must be feeling some anger today.

TC: I think it was a tragic mistake. Let me say briefly before we move on to Cuba, though. Just at the end of the last segment, Hugh, you rightly observed that the title of my book, A Time For Truth, is also the title of William Simon’s book. You’re the first person to notice that. And as you know, William Simon’s book came out in 1978. I was just 8 years old then, but I read it then, and it had a powerful impact on me. A couple of years later, he wrote A Time For Action. And those two books help lay a significant part of the intellectual foundation for the Reagan revolution. And so it was quite deliberate that I echoed Simon’s title, because I think we’re at a similar moment of crisis where we need a grassroots movement like the Reagan revolution in 1980. So I just wanted to point that out, because no one else had noticed that, and I was glad…

HH: Well, people forget how much A Time For Truth mattered in 1978. Of course, I worked for Bill Simon. He was the chairman of the Nixon Library when I was its executive director, and he was a great man and a brilliant man. But A Time For Truth really shook things up, Ted Cruz, when it came out in 1978.

TC: You know, it may tell you something about growing up in the home I grew up in with my parents, but A Time For Truth was the bathroom reading my parents kept in their master bathroom.

HH: Good choice. Now about Cuba and the embassy…

TC: Yes.

HH: You’ve got to have a lot of conflicted, I took your anecdote about your walking out on Raul Castro from the last chapter of A Time For Truth.

TC: Right.

HH: But it’s, boy, it’s really present this morning.

TC: Well, it is. And I think this is a serious mistake. It’s a manifestation of the pattern of weakness and appeasement towards our enemies that has characterized the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. It’s the same pattern that occurred, that is occurring with regard to Russia, with regard to Iran, and it’s a very dangerous pattern. How sad is it that under the Obama administration the United States is going to have an embassy in Havana before we have an embassy in Jerusalem, that this administration will be friendlier to a communist dictator who hates America and seeks to undermine our nation than it is willing to stand with our close friend and ally, the nation of Israel. I think it’s wrong. And you know, one of the things that is in the book, as you know, is each chapter begins with a profile of a truth teller, someone I admire, someone who stood up and told the truth at great personal cost and made a difference. The very first truth teller featured in the book is a gentleman named Guillermo Farinas. He was a Cuban dissident.

HH: Oh.

TC: He used to be a member of Castro’s army. He was a communist. In fact, his nickname was El Coco. And he describes how he went to the Soviet Union and somehow got his hand on a copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. And it touched him powerfully, and he became a dissident, and he became a critic. He’s been imprisoned, he’s had hunger strikes. And Guillermo, and also another Cuban dissident named Elizardo Sanchez both came to the United States about a year ago. I interviewed both of them for about a half hour in Spanish. We put out the video interview, but it was interesting. Both of them predicted what the Obama administration has done. And both of them said that the Castros are following Putinissimo is what they called it, basically the philosophy of Putin, of appearing to liberalize while in fact strengthening the repression. What Obama’s doing is sending billions of dollars that will only make the Castros stronger, oppressing, torturing, murdering their people, and also spreading terrorism throughout Latin America.

HH: I had not known of those two men, but Armanda Valladares’ Against All Hope is a book that impacted me profoundly in the 70s, again, the same time as A Time For Truth. And I don’t know any Cuban exile, no matter what they think, that thinks this is a good idea, Ted Cruz.

TC: You know, it is not, and I’ll tell you, Guillermo Farinas was back in the United States recently accepting an award for his principled stand against communism. It was after the Obama administration had announced their rapprochement. And he said that the opposition movement in Cuba is heartbroken, they are abandoned, they are crushed. You know, the administration is not insisting on any role for dissidents. The Castros are continuing to imprison and torture people. They have no political rights. And all of the money going there is just propping up a cruel dictatorship that hates America, that is 90 miles away from America. And it’s an example consistently under the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. We have abandoned our friends and allies, whether it is the U.K., whether it’s Canada, whether it’s Israel, and we have shown weakness and appeasement to our enemies.

— – – —

HH: You know, Ted Cruz, I’ve known Judge Michael and Elizabeth Luttig a long time, longer than you have, actually, because Elizabeth was my colleague at OPM, and Michael and I followed each other in the White House Counsel’s Office. I had never read his statement at the sentencing of his father’s murderer until I read your book. And it’s powerful. And I mean, what prompted you to include that?

TC: Well, Judge Michael Luttig, as you know, is an extraordinary man. He was my very first boss when I came out of law school. I was a clerk for him on the 4th Circuit federal Court of Appeals. And he was a remarkable conservative jurist. He was Antonin Scalia’s very first law clerk. But he also sadly endured incredible personal tragedy. His father, John Luttig, was murdered in Tyler, Texas. His mom and dad were driving home one night, and three young men followed them home and then shot him in the garage of his house, because the shooter had decided he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. And so he murdered John Luttig in his own garage. And it was heartbreaking. All three of the young men were caught, and they were prosecuted, tried and convicted. And Judge Luttig spent about two years of his life while still serving on the bench going down and testifying at the trial. And he gave a victim impact statement that remains one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever seen of the tragedy of violent crime. And he just described a lot of the mundane details of a son after his father was murdered, things like going through his father’s underwear drawer and folding up the underwear one at a time that his dad would never wear, and going through his father’s desk drawer and seeing the brochure for the fishing trip that his dad was planning to take with his son in just a few weeks, seeing that the notes his father had saved were always the most minor ones that just said I love you, I’m thinking about you. And I’ll tell you that the elements in the victim impact statement that haunted me the most is he described one year after his father was killed going to the cemetery on Thanksgiving Day and just sitting by the grave so that his dad wouldn’t have to spend that Thanksgiving alone.

HH: That was amazing, and I knew you had written this book when I had gotten that far, because other, ghostwriters, I’ve been a ghostwriter for a long time. They don’t hear things like that. They don’t remember stuff like that. They don’t know what to include, what not to include from the victim impact statement. They just, obviously, it’s not ghosted at all. Let me ask you, though, about that powerful thing. Go to the end of the book and the beginning of the book. You respect your father immensely, because he went around and told all the people, he had fought for Castro. People may not know that. Your father was a Revo, and he repented of that, and he went around to all of the people and he said I got it wrong, and he asked them for their forgiveness. And he said I made a mistake. And at the end of the book, you bring up one of your truth tellers, Maggie Thatcher.

TC: Yeah.

HH: And you quote her as saying I had incurred the maximum of political odium for the minimum of political benefit. I love that line. She had done some dumb things. So he admitted his mistake. She admitted her mistakes. They learned from them. What has Ted Cruz made a mistake of thus far in the Senate?

TC: Well, you know, there are a number of things that I describe in the book, and I’m quite candid about some of the mistakes that I’ve made. And throughout the book, what I try to do is really tell the truth about what’s happening in Washington, both behind the closed doors of the Senate, if you’ve ever wondered what happens in the Republican Senate lunches, if you ever wonder what happens in meetings with Congressional leadership, this book shines a lot and tells the truth. Likewise, for folks, if you’ve ever wondered what happens at the Supreme Court behind closed doors, I spend a great deal of time talking about my year of serving as a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the Court, and also about my ten-plus years litigating in front of the Court, trying to really shine a light on what happens. But an answer on your question about the Senate, there are a number of mistakes I describe that I think I made. You know, one of them early on, you remember one of the first big battles that I was engaged in was the battle over Chuck Hagel. Chuck Hagel was nominated to be Defense Secretary. And I didn’t know Chuck Hagel. Most of my colleagues had served with him, and there was actually quite a bit of personal animosity between my colleagues and Chuck, but I didn’t serve with him. But I looked at his foreign policy record, and his foreign policy record, I thought, was really quite extreme. It reflected an antagonism to the nation of Israel, a willingness to tolerate Iran having nuclear weapons that I thought was dangerous. And so as a brand new baby freshman Senator, I led the opposition to Chuck Hagel in the Senate. And I describe how in the course of voting against him in the Senate Armed Services Committee that I made reference to, that an answer that he had given in writing to the committee suggested that he may have received significant payments that originated with a foreign country. And I said we don’t, you know, he may well have received, we don’t know whether he’s received money from foreign countries, or if so, from where. If he’d received money from a Canadian lumber issue, that would be fine. On the other hand, if he received money from North Korea or Saudi Arabia, that might be a different matter. And as I describe in the book, saying North Korea was a mistake.

HH: Yup.

TC: Because the instant I said it, the very reason I said it, it was in the news that day. Kim Jong Un had just announced he was targeting three U.S. cities with nukes, including my former home of Austin. And so it was in my mind, but there was no nexus of North Korea to Hagel, and it let the Democrats change the topic. They couldn’t defend his extreme record, so instead they began vilifying me as Joe McCarthy. And because I said the words North Korea, I gave them a tool to beat me with. And so that’s one example of a mistake I made that I learned. And I discuss quite a few other mistakes.

HH: Yeah, you do, and that’s consistent with your father and with Maggie Thatcher, and I think it’s important in a leadership function. Have you made a mistake about the filibuster? Mike Huckabee was just on with me saying you’ve got to break that filibuster, and a lot of people are pointing at your defense of the filibuster on my show on Monday, Senator Cruz. Any second thoughts?

TC: Well you know, it’s interesting that the folks that are calling for the end of the filibuster have almost universally not served in the Senate. And I’ll tell you, if we didn’t have the filibuster, the Obama administration would have been ten times worse, because it was only the supermajority requirement in the Senate that has prevented President Obama from continuing to ram disastrous legislation down the throats of the American people for the last six years. And so I recognize it’s easy for governors for former governors to say sure, get rid of the filibuster. If you’ve been part of the fights in Washington, let me give you an example. Without the filibuster, President Obama and Harry Reid would have rammed through legislation stripping away important parts of our right to keep and bear arms. I think the 2nd Amendment matters.

— – — –

HH: I certainly could talk to you for three hours. You know, how you lost $2,000 grand in a poker game your first month at Princeton is worth knowing. But I want to finish with a headline. I’m very disturbed by Mrs. Clinton’s emails and the fact that she had a private server. Obviously, Mike Morell told me the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians, our enemies had every email in real time. They were monitoring her server, Senator Cruz. Is that a potentially campaign-derailing story if people get the impact, not the fact that she can’t work a fax, but the fact that our enemies are obviously, know what she’s doing on her server?

TC: Well, it’s certainly a significant security risk. It’s also, you know, more broadly, what does it say about the rule of law that nobody, conservative or liberal, thinks there’s any prayer that the U.S. Department of Justice under either Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch will even begin investigating Hillary Clinton, even though she has publicly admitted the conduct that on its face appears to violate federal law, and may well have even constituted criminal violations while she’s the sitting Secretary of State. She is violating the law about keeping a private email server. But even more profoundly disturbing, while she is the sitting Secretary of State, she is depositing millions of dollars from foreign nations both in her own personal foundation , but also even more egregiously, her husband is giving paid speeches, receiving hundreds of thousands, and cumulatively millions of dollars from foreign countries that I one assumes he deposited in their joint checking account.

HH: Well, Senator Cruz, let me ask you, because we’re running short on time, another Senator who ran for the presidency against another Clinton, Bob Dole running against Bill Clinton, said famously, where’s the outrage. So where’s the outrage?

TC: Well, part of the problem is if anyone else had done this, if any, can you imagine any Republican Secretary of State who was depositing millions of dollars for foreign nations in their bank account? The result would have been not only outrage, but it would have been a criminal investigation. The rule of law should mean something. And how profoundly cynical are we that we all just take as a given, of course, this Justice Department is too corrupt to even begin to investigate Hillary Clinton.

HH: Why not offer, why not offer a sense of the Senate resolution that there ought to be a criminal investigation, Senator Cruz?

TC: I think that is certainly an idea worth considering. You know, my view is that the law matters. And it ought to be fairly and impartially applied. One of the worst aspects of the Obama presidency has been the lawlessness, whether it’s the IRS targeting individual citizens, whether it is the willingness to defy the law, and that’s something I’ve been fighting against, as you know. In the book, A Time For Truth, I describe at great detail leading the fight against the lawlessness of the Obama administration, which I think is going to be a major issue in the 2016 election.

HH: You do, indeed. The book is linked at Do you think you’ll offer that resolution about Hillary Clinton, Senator?

TC: I think it’s worth considering very closely.

HH: All right, we’ll watch that space. Ted Cruz, thanks for joining me.

End of interview.


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