Senator Ted Cruz joined me on the show today:
HH: Joined now by United States Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, welcome, it’s good to speak with you.
TC: Hugh, thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.
HH: Quite an amazing day in Washington, D.C.
HH: You have an extraordinary amount of influence on the House of Representatives. What do you think they ought to do?
TC: Well, it has been an extraordinary day. Kevin McCarthy’s dropping out, I think, surprised everybody. And you know, what I think they should do is what I have both publicly and privately urged members of the House to do from the very beginning, which is that they should select as Speaker a strong conservative who will actually honor the promises that we made to the men and women who elected us. There is right now this incredible divide between Washington and the American people, between career politicians in Washington who routinely ignore the promises we made to the American people. And Republican leadership has been doing that over and over again. We need a change.
HH: Senator Cruz, two names have emerged from an afternoon of phoning around. One of them is your colleague from Texas, Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The other is Pete Roskam, sub-committee chairman on Ways and Means. Both are able men. Would you rather either of them over an interim or a long period of uncertainty, because it seems to me the House would be crippled that way?
TC: You know, Hugh, I have long said that I’m going to stay out of House leadership fights, and that’s a decision for the House Republican Conference, so I’m not going to endorse any particular individual. But I will describe the characteristics that I think are important for the next Speaker to have. And the most important characteristic is a fidelity to the promises that were made to give us the majority.
You know, the people are so frustrated, because we have Republican majorities in both houses, and yet they’re not standing up to Obama. They’re not fighting for the principles that got us elected. In fact, House leadership and Senate leadership are affirmatively funding, facilitating and furthering Barack Obama’s failed liberal agenda. There is this volcanic rage, because we need leaders who stand with us and who do the same thing after they were elected that they said they would do on the campaign trail.
HH: Now, but you are from Texas, so do you, even without endorsing Jeb Hensarling, do you have an assessment of the chairman’s views?
TC: Oh, I certainly like Jeb. He’s a friend of mine. He’s a fellow Texan. There are a lot of people I like. I like Kevin McCarthy. He is someone who I like and respect personally. That’s why I’m leaving it to the House members to make this determination.
HH: Now I wrote a piece yesterday about the need, perhaps, for a lame duck deal, which is to fund the government through September of ’17 at a level that will make the Pentagon viable. We have a world on fire in the Middle East, Ted Cruz. Would you object to such a thing to just try and ease this president out?
TC: Look, I think there is a definitely a need to restore the necessary funding to our Defense Department. Under Barack Obama, we have dramatically undermined our ability to keep this nation safe. And unfortunately, it is simply not a priority, and we’re seeing the consequences all over the world. I mean, it is, the world today is literally on fire right now. We’ve abandoned our friends and allies, and our enemies have gotten stronger in every region of the world because of the weakness of President Obama and because of his foolish policy of leading from behind and especially at ta time when things have gotten so perilous, it makes so sense f or us to be underfunding and cutting our military. Instead, we need to ensuring we have all of the tools and resources necessary to keep this country safe.
HH: So is it urgent enough that you would endorse a deal that got us through the rest of the Obama years even at some kind of a sugar doughnut-cookie for the president just to get it done so that we can rebuild the military starting now when we need it?
TC: Well, Hugh, let me be clear. I don’t think that we should do what leadership wants to do which is enter a grand compromise with Obama that we blow through the budget caps, dramatically increase domestic spending and start digging an even deeper and deeper deficit and debt hole. I think that would be irresponsible. It’s what the Democrats want. But, it wasn’t too many years ago that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen said the greatest national security threat facing America is our exploding national debt and so I don’t think it would be responsible to just ignore the budget caps and the fiscal restraint we have on the non-defense side. And that’s sadly what the Democrats want and what Republican leadership wants to do.
HH: Well, I’ll come back after break and ask you the question at what point, though, does it become necessary to trade the one for the other because of the necessity of this crisis that we find ourselves in. United States Senator Ted Cruz is my guest, I’ll be right back America. Stay tuned.
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HH: Back now with United States Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, we were talking before about what happens when the House gridlocks on December 11th and the Senate can’t pass anything and the military is in desperate need of funding. I know you don’t want to shut down the government, no Republican does. But the president seems intent upon doing so for a political maneuver. At what point does the national security overwhelm our political need to have it out with the president? Because I was all in favor of the shutdown two years ago, but right now, I think the military comes first.
TC: Well, there is no doubt that we need to stand with the military and strengthen the military. Now I will note that the challenges to defending this nation, they are financial in nature in terms of not providing adequate resources to the military, but the principle challenge is not financial. The principle challenge is a commander-in-chief who refuses to stand up to our enemies. It’s not defense funding, that is leading Putin in Syria and getting more and more aggressive and threatening our allies. It is the fact that the Commander-in-Chief is so weak that he projects appeasement to every one of our enemies and, as you know, appeasement only invites further provocation. What I think we should be doing is using the constitutional authority of Congress to protect this nation and there’s no more important effort that we can focus our time and energy than using the constitutional authority to stop funding for this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal because sending $100 billion to the Ayatollah Khomeini poses an unacceptable threat. That theocratic zealot will use that money, we know to a certainty, will use that money to fund jihadists who will murder Americans, and if he succeeds in acquiring nuclear weapons, that money that President Obama is trying to send Khomeini could literally fund the nuclear weapons that would be used to murder millions of Americans. That’s something I think Congress should stand up and stop Obama on.
HH: Now you see, I don’t disagree with that, but I do think there are alternatives to that you can signal and the House can sue and people can sue, the people who are doing business in Iran are putting their net worth at huge risk, and you and know there are ways to signal that other than a shutdown of six months or eight months or nine months which I’m all for, if we have the intestinal fortitude, but we don’t. I’m worried about a military that can’t build a ship because it doesn’t have budget authority beyond December 11th. It can’t readiness ready. IF the president came to the Senate and the House and said, “I’ll give you three dollars in new defense spending for every dollar of domestic spending,” would you, Ted Cruz, take that deal?
TC: Well, the president has not come with that deal. The president hasn’t come close to that the deal. What the president says consistently is he wants dollar-for-dollar increases on the domestic side and usually he wants tax increases on top of that. And there’s no reason to think the president is going to change from his unreasonable demands because he keeps winning every fight. As long as you have Republican leadership that gives in and preemptively surrenders at the beginning of every fight, why would Obama back down. And the reason the voters are so frustrated is that they don’t see Republican leadership standing up and fighting for anything that they promised the voters to fight for. That’s the basic disconnect and I will note, the entire reason that I’m running for president is that Barack Obama has done so much damage to this country that we need to nominate a president and elect a president who is committed to conservative principles as Obama is to liberal principles . To undo the damage, to rebuild the military and come January 2017 as president, we’re going to begin rebuilding the military, we’re going to bring back jobs and economic growth. We’re going to push regulatory reform, pull back the EPA, we’re going to defend the constitution again. All of that can be done with a strong president. Sadly, my optimism that will come from Republican leadership in Congress is very, very slim.
HH: I do think it can be done, but I come back to the reality. You’ve done about about a million settlement negotiations. I know your lawyering background, and you know at some point, a line has to be signaled beyond which people will not go and about which they will not budge. Right now the people who like Ted Cruz in the House seem to say, “We will shut down the government without a plan.” That’s actually not a good settlement negotiation. Having a defensible line is a a good settlement negotiation with even a irrational, ridiculous president. Shouldn’t they put something on the table that they will settle for other than defunding Planned Parenthood and complete withdrawal from the president’s demand for new domestic spending?
TC: Look Hugh, as you know very well, House conservatives are not saying they want to shut down the government. It’s Barack Obama who says he wants to shut down the government and now the mainstream media dutifully reports whenever Obama threatens a shutdown that’s it the Republicans’ fault and people watch and they wonder why the Republican leadership surrenders. It all starts with the very simple, seemingly innocuous promise from Republican leadership. There will never ever be a shutdown. The problem is, when you’re facing President Obama and Democrats that are zealous, that are committed to their liberal ideological agenda, suddenly Obama understands he has a magic bullet that allows him to win every fight no matter what the fight is, he simply whispers the word shutdown and Republican leadership runs to the hills and surrenders. So Obama demands, “Fund every penny of Obamacare and do nothing whatsoever to help the millions of people hurt by that failed law ore else, I Barack Obama, will veto the budget for the whole government and shut the government down and Republican leadership says, “Absolutely, we’ll do it. We’ll fund Obamacare.” He does the same thing on amnesty, they say, “We’ll fund amnesty.” He does the same thing on Planned Parenthood, they say, “We’ll fund Planned Parenthood.” He does the same thing on this Iranian nuclear deal, and they fund the Iranian nuclear deal. That’s why Obama is not going to give in because let’s go back to your analogy of settlement negotiation. If one side wins 100-percent of the time because the other side will give them whatever they demand, you’re not going to get a middle ground. You’re going to continue to get leadership funding 100% of Obama’s agenda. That is a mistake. And it’s why I hope the next Speaker of the House doesn’t follow that same failed leadership strategy.
HH: Hold that thought, I’ll be right back with United States Senator Ted Cruz.
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HH: Back now with United States Senator Ted Cruz. We left talking about the next Speaker of the House. We have two and half minutes, Senator. I go back to where I began. A lot of this would get clear if the House had good conservative leadership and a Speaker who is going articulate and defend defensible lines. You are reluctant, Jeb Bush was earlier was reluctant, every Republican is reluctant to get inside of the House’s kitchen. But I look at the front page of the Post at this hour, “Chaos is the GOP’s new normal.” They think we’re crazy. “The House new conservative Politburo.” All over, we’re getting crushed by the media and we have all these great leaders out there who I saw on the stage in Simi Valley and none of them will help the House Republicans move. IS it a failure on the part of all the candidates not to step in and help get moving on a House Speaker?
TC: Well listen, let’s be clear. When it comes to stepping and leading on the fights on the substance, that is something that I have been doing every day that I’ve been serving. So let’s take for an example, you and I were both on the stage in California at the debate. We saw every Republican candidate pledge to defund Planned Parenthood. They said they supported that. Well, last week, we had an epic drag-down battle on exactly that issue. Millions of Republicans rose up and said, “Stop sending taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood.” I was proud to lead that fight. Not a single Republican candidate on that stage showed up and led in any meaningful way in that fight. I would have welcomed all eleven Republican presidential candidates to come to Washington together in unison and to say to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, “Don’t send $5 million on taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, a criminal enterprise, caught on tape, apparently committing a patter n of felonies, illegally selling the body parts of unborn children. That would have been leadership and yet, every other Republican presidential candidate who promised to do it at the California debate, when the fight was being fought, they were no were to be found. They were in witness protection it seems.
TC: And that is not leadership.
HH: But now there is another opportunity to be the only guy standing, Ted Cruz by naming anybody, by saying, “I will come and stand with Jeb Hensarling or Peter Roskam or Mike Pompeo.” You name a good conservative and I’ll go stand with them. You’ll have center stage again. Someone’s got to help the Republicans. It looks like gridlock around chaos.
TC: Hugh, what I am doing is describing characteristics of the next Speaker and I think the House Republicans know exactly who fits that bill and who does not fit that bill. And I think that is the appropriate way to lead in this regard, is to describe what strong, principled, successful Republican leadership would look like and I hope that House Republicans make that very same choice.
HH: Senator Ted Cruz, always a pleasure. Thank you, Senator.
TC: Thank you, Hugh. God Bless you.
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