Senator Ted Cruz joined me on the program today to discuss all things 2016:
HH: So pleased to begin this hour with United States Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
TC: Hugh, it is always great to be with you. Thank you for having me.
HH: Can I assume that John Boehner’s not going to be your running mate?
TC: (laughing) I think that is a fair inference. I appreciate, by the way, you asking folks about that comment. That was very kind of you.
HH: Well, I don’t understand it, and I’d like to expand and not limit it to the Speaker. But what in the world is the upside of any Republican slagging another Republican, especially when the other Republican is running for president and might be our nominee?
TC: Well, look, unfortunately, I think an awful lot of folks in politics, they get personal and they engage in insults and ad hominem attacks. And there’s far too much of that that goes on. And my approach consistently is that I don’t reciprocate. The Speaker is entitled to express whatever views he likes, but I’m not going to respond in kind. And I think the American people are not remotely interested in a bunch of politicians in Washington bickering like schoolyard children. I think what they’re looking for is serious leaders who will address and provide real solutions to the very real problems we’re facing right now.
HH: Now when I was defending you to some friends this weekend, I was out climbing a fourteener in Colorado, and I was saying Ted Cruz did not deserve this, and they said well, he attacked McConnell pretty badly, and I said read what he said. It wasn’t a personal attack. Am I correct in making that distinction?
TC: That is exactly right. There is a difference between describing the facts and describing someone’s actions, and what occurred, and engaging in a personal attack. I gave, a couple of months ago, an unusual floor speech to be sure. But I stood up and I said here are the commitments that the Majority Leader gave to me, personally, to every Republican Senator, and to the American people. And his conduct today is directly contrary to those commitments that he made, and that is quite different from engaging in the kind of personal attack and insults and profanity-laden assault that so many others engage in.
HH: Now let’s turn to some issues, Senator Cruz.
HH: I have asked as many Republicans as have been here about the pending state visit from President Xi Jingping of China. Scott Walker wants it canceled. Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio want it downgraded. Donald Trump wants it to go forward and negotiate harder. What does Ted Cruz say?
TC: Look, at the end of the day, I don’t think much of the future of the world turns on what the label is on the menu at the dinner in the White House with President Xi. What I do think impact the United States and impacts the world is having a president that stands up and defends American interests. I mean, part of the problem with this Obama presidency is that we consistently fail to defend our interests. So for example, with respect to China, you know, China, by all appearances, is directly responsible for an act of cyber warfare against the United States, hacking into the Office of Personnel Management, hacking into the information on millions of government employees. And yet, the Obama administration has flaccidly sat by and done nothing. That does not make sense, and as you know well as a student of history, the reaction throughout history of bullies and tyrants to the weakness and appeasement that the Obama administration is manifesting is to get more and more aggressive, which I think explains why you see China so bellicose and on the march throughout the South China Sea and throughout Asia. We need a president who will stand up to China, and it doesn’t really matter what you call the dinner. What matters is whether the president stands up for America.
HH: What matters, though, is if you invite him. Now I’m an old Nixon guy, and I helped him write The Real War. I oversaw the construction of his library, and he opened China. But in my view, he would not invite the Chinese president to the United States after an act of war, and I think that’s what you just described happening.
TC: Look, you make a fair point on that. And I will say there is a striking contrast between the treatment of the president of China and the treatment of the Obama administration of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. When Prime Minister Netanyahu came to America, invited to address a joint session of Congress, an extraordinarily rare event, the Obama administration, the President, the Vice President, and every member of the cabinet boycotted the speech, and President Obama refused even to allow Israel’s Prime Minister to come into the White House. The contrast, and that really, comparing those two, shows what’s misguided about the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. With respect to our enemies, with respect to those who are seeking to harm America, the Obama administration projects weakness and appeasement. With respect to our friends and allies, like Israel, like the United Kingdom, like Canada, the Obama administration abandons, alienates and refuses to stand with them. It’s entirely backwards.
HH: If you were the president and Russia or China attacked us via the cyberattacks that they have been launching, and Russia did one against the Pentagon. It’s been widely reported in public.
TC: Sure, yeah.
HH: Would you cancel any visits, because they’ll use them for propaganda. Would Ted Cruz say nope, not on my watch?
TC: Look, maybe, maybe not. I think the visit is the least important element of it. I think the visit could be markedly different, for example, if President Obama used the visit to call out President Xi, to call into account, to call him to account for his violation of human rights, to call into account for his violation and China’s violation of American intellectual property. They’re stealing our intellectual property. The meeting and dinner could be productive if the President would actually stand up to him. And I would note. For something like cyberterrorism and cyber warfare, we need to dramatically upgrade the ability of the United States government to defend its own records against cyberattack. We need to dramatically upgrade the ability of the military to defend against and to wage cyber warfare And we should be responding. If a nation like China engages in a cyberattack, we should respond with proportional countermeasures. For example, using cyberattacks to take down China’s firewall, to open up China’s people to be able to access the internet, so that countries have a real and meaningful deterrence, because they know that there will be a price to be paid from the United States government. That’s what’s missing right now.
HH: Let me turn to the rally you and Donald Trump are going to stage over the Iran deal. First of all, when is that happening? And how did it come to pass?
TC: So it’ll be the afternoon of September 9. It will be on the United States Capitol grounds. This is a rally that I am organizing, and I’m working very closely with Tea Party Patriots and with a number of pro-Israel groups, and national security groups. And it is a rally opposing this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. I reached out to Donald Trump, and I invited Donald Trump to join me at the rally. And he very kindly accepted. I think it’s terrific that Donald has agreed to join me at the rally, and I think his participation will be very, very beneficial, because it will, of necessity, attract an enormous amount of press attention. Reporters seem to follow Donald wherever he goes, and it will attract an awful lot of folks who will come out and stand together and urge members of Congress to stop this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal. I think the single greatest national security threat facing America is the threat of a nuclear Iran, and we need to do everything humanly possible to stop it.
HH: Now Senator, a couple of, I’ll come back to Iran in a second, a quick political question. Right now, in all the polls, there seems to be Donald Trump and everybody else. Now you’re a trial lawyer and you’re a litigator, and you know that cases open and cases flow and cases close. So I’m sure you’re not too worried about that. But what do you attribute the early hare-like sprint of Donald Trump to?
TC: Oh, I think people are ticked off at Washington. And they want someone who will stand up to Washington, who will tell the truth, and I think that’s why he’s attracted the early support he has. I’m very, very grateful that Donald Trump is in the race. As you noted before, a lot of the Republican presidential candidates have gone out of their way to be really nasty to Donald, to attack him, to hit him with a two by four. I have very consciously refused to do that, and even to the contrary, have sung his praises. And I’m grateful he’s in the race for several reasons. One, because Donald Trump is in the race, he has forced the mainstream media to actually talk about illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is a crisis, it is a national security threat, it is a crime threat, it is a threat to jobs and wages. And the natural consequence of the media and the primary voters focusing on and talking about illegal immigration is the next inquiry is okay, well, who has a record of standing up and fighting to stop illegal immigration? And unlike the other 2016 Republican presidential candidates, I have a strong and consistent record of fighting to stop illegal immigration. Indeed, Hugh, it was striking at the Cleveland debate, of the ten candidates standing on the debate stage, all of them claimed to oppose amnesty. And yet a majority of the candidates standing on that stage had previously and publicly embraced amnesty. And I’m the only candidate on that stage who has never supported amnesty, who has always opposed it, and who led the fight, standing shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions, to defeat Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid and the establishment Republicans’ massive amnesty plan. So I’m grateful for Trump focusing the discussion on illegal immigration, because that ends up benefiting our campaign enormously when people ask okay, who’s got a record on this. A second point that’s related to that, Donald Trump, by his nature, attracts an enormous amount of attention. 24 million people watched that first debate. That’s a record-shattering number. I think that’s fantastic. Coming out of that first debate, most of the other candidates, their numbers either stagnated or went down. Our numbers nationally doubled coming out of that debate, so I’m very grateful for all those millions of people who turned on the TV, all those millions of eyeballs, that went to watch Donald Trump, and yet had the opportunity to hear my positive, optimistic, conservative message, and proven record. And that’s why our support, our momentum, is skyrocketing all across the country.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, I’m going to be at the next debate asking questions, and I’m not going to ask this question at the debate, because it is not, my focus is on national security and Defense. But it is nevertheless absorbed a lot of time. How many arguments have you had before the United States Supreme Court? Nine?
HH: All right, so, and by the way, that goes back to the Speaker’s comment, but I’ll let that lie. There are a lot of fine Constitutional scholars who think the 14th Amendment is clear, that anyone born here is a citizen. There are a handful of very good Constitutional scholars, including John Eastman, Lino Graglia, Mark Levin and others who believe that’s not the case. And Mark believes statute could change it. I don’t. I happen to believe that the 14th Amendment is in fact, as interpreted by tradition, and that you would have to amend it. What is your position? I want to just give you the floor to explain your legal position in that debate. Do you think the 14th Amendment speaks to it? Does it have to be amended? Could a statute change it? What’s Ted Cruz’ view?
TC: Well, let me take two different questions. Let me start with the policy issue, and then focus on the legal issue, which is what you just asked about. As a policy matter, I think it doesn’t make any sense for us to continue our policy of birthright citizenship. It doesn’t make sense that children of people who are here illegally should be granted automatic American citizenship. The effect of doing that that we incentivize more and more illegal immigration, and that doesn’t, no one who wanted a rational and humane immigration system would want to incentivize people breaking the law and coming here illegally. Now there are two possible ways to change that policy, as you just noted. One is to pass a statute. The other is to pass a Constitutional amendment. Now serious Constitutional scholars on both sides of the issue dispute whether a statute could do it. The 14th Amendment provides, as you know, that persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, shall be United States citizenship. And the dispute is over what the phrase subject to the jurisdiction thereof means. There are serious scholars, such as your and my friend, Professor John Eastman, who argue that that subject to the jurisdiction thereof could encompass the definition that Congress lays out, and accordingly, we could pass a statute changing birthright citizenship. There are other serious Constitutional scholars that you and I both respect who say no, the only way to do it is to pass a Constitutional amendment. In my view, whoever is right, I don’t know who’s right, but whoever is right, we should do it. If it takes a statute, we should pass a statute. If it takes a Constitutional amendment, we should pass an amendment. But regardless, either one of those avenues will take time. This is not a quick solution. And because illegal immigration poses a crisis now, today, the greatest priority, the greatest urgency, should be on securing the borders, and that can be done immediately, January, 2017. A new president could simply enforce the laws we have now. The Obama administration refuses to do that. Stop releasing violent criminal illegal aliens. Start enforcing the laws. And I pledge to you and all your listeners, if I’m elected president, we will enforce the laws, we will secure the border, and we will stop illegal immigration.
HH: Two last questions, Senator. Does advocacy of the statute, whether under the Commerce Clause, as Mark Levin, or under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, as others argue, does advocacy for the statute hurt the party and the nominee’s standing with Hispanic-Americans who vote because they’re legal citizens and they take that as an insult?
TC: I don’t believe it does. This is one of the things the media tries to convince Republicans that somehow if we stand against illegal immigration, it hurts us with Hispanic voters. Listen, I am Hispanic. I am the son of a Cuban immigrant. I can tell you that a great many Hispanics who are legal immigrants, who are the children of legal immigrants, who are United States citizens, they want to see our border secured as well. And in fact, it is many in the Hispanic community who are here legally, who are paying some of the harshest prices and consequences of illegal immigration, because they’re losing their jobs to people here illegally. They’re having their wages pushed down. And so I think tone matters. We don’t want, ever, engaging in public discourse, to use rhetoric that is somehow hateful and vilifying others. And indeed, when it comes to immigration, I am an emphatic advocate of legal immigration. I think the principle is simple – illegal, bad, legal, good. And I think we should continue to welcome and celebrate legal immigration and legal immigrants. But at the same time, we need to recognize we have a crisis, and adopt common sense policies to secure our borders and to stop illegal immigration.
HH: And a last question, Senator Cruz. I’m a son of Northeastern Ohio. The McKinley Memorial is located about five miles from where I grew up. And I am offended that the President of the United States thinks he has the authority to rename mountains. I really am. Where does this guy get off? And so what do you think about this?
TC: It is the latest manifestation of the megalomaniacal, imperial presidency that we have seen for six and a half years. This administration has been the most lawless administration we have ever seen. And this president routinely disregards the law, disregards the Constitution, disregards the Congress. If he wants to change the name of a mountain, the way to do so is to go to Congress. Indeed, there is legislation pending to do what he just decreed would happen. But he can’t be bothered with Constitutional niceties like actually passing legislation. Instead, he simply decrees. And I’m reminded a few years back, Hugh, when he was asked repeatedly by amnesty advocates to just unilaterally declare executive amnesty. And he responded over and over and over again that he had no authority to do so, that Congress makes the immigration laws, and as president, Constitutionally, he couldn’t change them. Indeed, one of the things Barack Obama said is, “I am not an emperor.” That was his explanation for why he couldn’t unilaterally issue amnesty. And then a few months later, the election was approaching, and I guess he became an emperor, because the order that he had just said he would have had to be an emperor to issue, I mean, I’m reminded, you and I both know Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley.
TC: A well-respected law professor. He’s a noted liberal. He voted for Barack Obama in 2008.
HH: Man of the left, yeah.
TC: Professor Turley has described how President Obama has become the embodiment of the imperial president. Barack Obama has become the president Richard Nixon always wished he could be.
HH: On that note, Senator Cruz, I know I’ve held you long. Thank you so much for your time, come back early and often, and I’ll see you at the Reagan Library, if not before.
TC: Hugh, I look forward to it, and let me encourage, as I always do, your listeners to come to www.tedcruz.org, www.tedcruz.org, sign up online, contribute, join us. The momentum we’re seeing is incredible, and I’m really encouraged by the direction this country is going.
HH: Thank you, Senator.
End of interview.