Senator Ted Cruz, surging in Iowa, joined me on today’s show:
HH: Pleased to begin this hour on Monday with United States Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Cruz, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
TC: Hugh, it’s great to be with you, and I’ve got to say, I always love doing your show, because coming into the Game of Thrones music just makes everyone feel more epic and like we are engaged in the battle we are to save this country.
HH: Well, we still think you might be the king in the north, so we have to wait and see, but let me start…
TC: Are you saying someone’s cutting my head off?
HH: No, well, you know, the king of the north, it could go either way. It depends on what that means.
HH: Senator, toughest question to start. Obviously, if Alabama or Clemson loses, Ohio State’s in the college football playoff, right?
TC: So I understand.
HH: So you’re in agreement with that, and you’ll lobby the CFP playoff committee?
TC: Look, you know, there are, let me content myself with battles about national security and politics and leave the really important questions of college football to other folks with greater skill and capability than I have.
HH: All right, then let’s go to the very, very serious stuff.
TC: But I will say this, Hugh, that since Iowa and South Carolina both have early primaries, this year, I’m rooting for a national championship between Iowa and Clemson, and if that happens, I’ve given a lot of thought to it, and I’ve decided the very best outcome is that it goes to triple overtime and ends in a tie.
HH: That is, that is very politick, but you are overlooking the March 15th primary in Ohio, Senator. And so I’m just pointing that out.
HH: Now let’s go to the very, very serious stuff. Jennifer Markovsky, Ke’Arre Stewart and Garrett Swasey, the last, a police officer, lost their lives in Colorado when that gunman killed them last week. On the CBS News write-up yesterday, though, of this, there is this paragraph. “On Sunday, Planned Parenthood said Dear’s,” that’s the killer’s, “words, matched the ‘hateful rhetoric’ GOP presidential candidates and many conservative leaders have been using since now-discredited, secretly-taped videos discussing the procurement of fetal body parts for medical research came out.” Now first of all, that’s CBS editorializing. And I don’t think these videos have been discredited in the least, do you, Senator?
TC: Look, of course they haven’t, and that’s CBS behaving like the mainstream media always does, as liberal partisans. And indeed, it’s one of the most striking things that none of the major network news have been willing to even show the Planned Parenthood videos, which demonstrate senior Planned Parenthood officials being caught on tape apparently committing a pattern of ongoing felonies. But none of this is surprising. The media, just like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, are trying to politicize this tragic shooting. This man was a deranged, homicidal killer, and you and I are both un-apologetically prolife, and that means defending every human life, including the unborn, but also including the police officer and the civilians who lost their lives. And this murder was fundamentally wrong. And the efforts of the media to transform it into their pro-abortion propaganda is as transparent as it is despicable.
HH: Was Planned Parenthood selling baby parts, in your opinion, Senator Cruz?
TC: They were certainly caught on film, that there is no doubt that they were selling baby parts. That is unambiguous. The videos show senior Planned Parenthood officials selling the parts of unborn children, and it is a federal criminal offense. It’s a felony to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. The only legal defense Planned Parenthood could try to mount is that it wasn’t being sold for profit. Even that, on the face of it, is a difficult case to make, because one of the videos shows a Planned Parenthood official negotiating back and forth, and saying she didn’t want to undercut herself, she wanted to get the highest price she possibly could, which on its face sure sounds like it is selling them for profit. But you know, that answer, frankly, should not be resolved by you and me on a radio show. That answer should be resolved by a grand jury, and by the Department of Justice presenting the evidence to the grand jury to determine whether Planned Parenthood committed a pattern of felonies. And it is only because the Obama Justice Department is the most politicized and partisan Justice Department we’ve ever seen that nobody on Earth thinks there’s any chance they would ever investigate, much less prosecute, Planned Parenthood. I can tell you this, Hugh, if I’m elected president, on the first day in office, I will instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood, and to prosecute any and all criminal violations by that organization, because criminal justice should be blind to party or ideology. Instead, it should be driven by the facts and the law, and that doesn’t happen in the Obama Justice Department.
HH: Senator Cruz, I begin with this, because there’s obviously a concerted effort, it’s an Orwellian effort, to delegitimize criticism of Planned Parenthood. And I brought up on Meet The Press yesterday the name Floyd Lee Corkins. That’s the man who went down to the Family Research Council with the intention of murdering many people because of the opposition of the Council to same sex marriage.
HH: He’s been convicted to 25 years to life. He was a terrorist like this guy was a terrorist at the Planned Parenthood thing. But there was no attempt by conservatives to demonize advocates of same sex marriage. The reverse is not true right now, and I am worried about the 1st Amendment. In fact, if I can play for you Governor Hickenlooper in Colorado yesterday, governor of Colorado, I’m at Colorado Christian University today…
HH: He was on State of the Union. Here’s what the governor of Colorado said.
JH: Well, certainly it is a form of terrorism, and maybe in some way, it’s a function of the inflammatory rhetoric that we see on all, I mean, so many issues now, there are bloggers and you know, talk shows where they really focus on trying to get people to that point of boiling over, and just intense anger. And I think maybe it’s time to also look at how do we tone down some of that rhetoric. Obviously, no one’s going to try and reduce free speech in this country, but that rhetoric clearly is, if people are in some way emotionally unstable or psychologically unbalanced, that intensity of rhetoric sometimes seems to pull a trigger in their brain that they lose contact with what reality is.
HH: Now if Governor Hickenlooper made the same statement after Corkins tried to kill the Family Research Council people, I do not remember it. But Senator, that’s clearly an attempt to intimidate speech.
TC: Look, of course it is, and it seems to me journalists ought to ask those same Democrats, whether it’s the Governor or whether it’s Barack Obama, or whether it’s Hillary Clinton, whether they believe the inflamed rhetoric of Black Lives Matter has contributed to the targeting and murder of police officers. And one of these seems to be clear. You want to talk about inflamed rhetoric, Black Lives Matter has been caught, their protesters on film, chanting pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon. Now that is hateful rhetoric, and I don’t see any reporters asking Hillary Clinton when she meets with Black Lives Matter whether she agrees with those sentiments that we should be murdering police officers. And I would contrast that with what you and I were talking about just a minute ago on Planned Parenthood. Neither of us expressed any sentiments remotely like that. We said the federal criminal laws in this country should be enforced against anybody who violates them, and there shouldn’t be a partisan exemption for friends of the Democratic Party like Planned Parenthood. That’s not overheated rhetoric. That is in fact simply following the law and respecting the rule of law.
HH: And before I switch to the 2016 race, I have been doing prolife events for 25 years. I’ve probably done more than 100 of them. I have never met, not once, a single prolife activist who is in favor of violence of any sort. Have you, Senator Cruz?
TC: I have not, and I would note that this whole episode has really displayed the ugly underbelly of the media. You know, every time you have some sort of violent crime or mass killing, you can almost see the media salivating, hoping, hoping desperately that the murderer happens to be a Republican so they can use it to try to paint their political enemies. Now listen, here’s the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn’t report that. What they report, and there’s a reason why the Democrats for years have been viewed as soft on crime, because they go in and they appoint to the bench judges who release violent criminals. They go in, and they do what Barack Obama tried to do, which is appoint a lawyer voluntarily represented for free, a cop killer, to a senior Justice Department position. They go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons. Why? Because the Democrats know convicted felons tend to vote Democrat. And so the media never reports on any of that, doesn’t want to admit any of that, but you can see in every one of these, every time there’s a terrible crime, they’re so excited, come on, please, one of these be a Republican so we can try to pain the other side. It is one of the more egregious examples of media bias, and it’s something we see over and over and over again.
HH: All right, Senator, I’d like to switch over to 2016. I’ve described this race as the 1,500 followed by the 10K followed by the Marathon, and the 1,500 is underway right now before the debates and prior to Iowa. And I remember Mary Decker and Zola falling down. I remember Jim Ryan in 1972 falling down. You and Marco Rubio are now kind of in the 1,500 kick lap, and you’re running into each other. Is that the way it’s going to be between now and the end of February?
TC: Well, let me say, since you’re one of the moderators for the next debate, I very much hope it does not include a 1,500 or a 10K or a Marathon. I was told there would be no exercise in this debate, and that, you know, I might have to denounce Hugh Hewitt’s media bias if you start making us run the track.
HH: But are you guys locking elbows and pushing around each other? Is that where the race is going at this point, because it looks like Dr. Carson and Donald Trump are in their own separate media worlds.
HH: But you two are engaging.
TC: Well, Hugh, look, I think what we’re seeing is the race is starting to sort itself out. We started out with 17 candidates, and everyone bemoaned gosh, there’s so many candidates, there’s so many terrific people who are so talented, how do we make a choice. And what we’re seeing is as the primaries are approaching, the vetting and the slimming down of the field is occurring. We’ve had three candidates drop out already, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal, all very good men, strong governors and all people who were competing primarily in the conservative lane. I think that has been very beneficial to my campaign, because we’ve seen their supporters, we’ve seen conservatives uniting behind our campaign. And you know, if you look at the national polling and the field, there are only four candidates who are polling in double digits, and that is Trump and Carson, and myself and Rubio. And everyone else is at 4% or below. So I think that’s the natural sorting of the field, and you would expect that to happen. I mean, we’re a couple of months away from the Iowa caucuses, and in all likelihood, by the end of March, this primary is going to be over, and we’re going to have a nominee. And so it is unsurprising that both voters and also media observers are beginning to focus on the policy differences between the candidates. And as you know, my view has consistently been I’m not going to engage in the personal attacks and the ad hominems and the mud-slinging. And indeed, if others attack me, I won’t respond in kind. But I do think it is entirely appropriate to have policy differences to focus on differences in record and policy and vision, and that should be the bread and butter of politics. And I hope and expect in the next debate, that will be, that we’ll continue to see those differentiations which help primary voters decide which candidate to support.
HH: I agree. Now Chuck Todd asked me yesterday about the metadata debate, and here is his question and my answer.
CT: Is Cruz vulnerable?
HH: Yes, he is, and the debate on the 15h, in which I’m a panelist, that will come up if I have any hope to turn that towards a national security focus. That is a major deal, because the French were not able to follow, with the best homeland security in Europe, were not able to follow the terrorists who attacked Paris. And the collection of metadata will matter.
HH: Okay, so Senator Cruz, I hope to bring it up. I don’t know, I never get to make the final cuts on these things, and who knows what’s going on, but the Freedom Act debate between you and Marco Rubio, I’m not going to take a side on it, but I think it’s going to come up. What do you think about it?
TC: Oh, sure, I think it is likely to come up, and I’ll say, by the way, on the first question, I had publicly lobbied CNN. I’d like to see you get a lot more questions, Hugh. I’d love to see you get into a detailed foreign policy discussion, because there are very few national commentators with anything close to your level of knowledge and sophistication, and I think that would be beneficial to the voters. And I was disappointed, you’re not going to respond to this other than to say something gracious, but I was disappointed at the last debate you were at that I thought you didn’t get nearly enough questions, and so I’d like to see you get a lot more airtime.
HH: Well, thank you, but I am going to say it went well, and the second one will as well. But what about the metadata?
TC: So on the metadata, you’re right that a PAC that is supporting Marco Rubio is putting about $200,000 dollars in running attack ads in the state of Iowa right now going after me on national security. And I have to say my first reaction when I saw the attack ad was to chuckle. I don’t think it is an attack that is going to work. I think it is a substantively false attack. And I think the reason that Rubio’s allies have resorted to false attack ads is they are very, very nervous about our surge in the polls, about the fact that conservatives are uniting behind our campaign, and they’re even more nervous about all the scrutiny that people are focusing on Marco Rubio’s longtime partnership with Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer pushing a massive amnesty plan. And so I think they were looking to change the subject, and they believed that launching a false attack based on the USA Freedom Act was the way to do it. The facts are simple. The USA Freedom Act, which I supported along with Senator Mike Lee, along with most of the conservatives in the House of the Representatives, along with the National Rifle Association, all of us supported it. We did so, number one, because it ended the federal government’s bulk collection of phone metadata, and it is not necessary to keep us safe to violate the Constitutional rights of millions of law-abiding citizens. I don’t believe the federal government needs to collect in bulk and maintain your and my phone records. That does not further national security. But the second thing the USA Freedom Act does is it strengthens the tools for going after the terrorists. If you have a terrorist, if you have someone who is communicating with terrorists, we need law enforcement and national security to have the ability to intercept their hones, to intercept their emails, to go after and target them. And the USA Freedom Act strengthens the ability to go after the bad guys. That’s why the Rubio PAC ad is false and knowingly false. And I think their efforts to change the topic from Rubio’s longtime support of amnesty, I don’t think that’s going to be successful.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, you know that I can be objective and fair, even though we might disagree on this issue. And I want to put that out there.
TC: Absolutely. Absolutely.
HH: Metadata worries me because of the end to end encryption employed by the Paris terrorists and the delay between the need to track down a suspect and get access to their records. What’s your response to that, because when the moment comes that we have Paris in the United States, and it is coming, in my view, I don’t know if you agree with me on that, we’re going to want to find every bit of information about these people like they did in Paris and Belgium after an attack.
TC: You are right that when we have a terrorist, when we have a cell phone, we’re going to want to track it down and track it down quickly. And the testimony of the intelligence agencies was that the USA Freedom Act increased the ability to target the bad guys, that the old bulk metadata program that swept in your and my information, but it wasn’t all-encompassing. It excluded a significant number of phone numbers, and so it made it less effective. And what the intelligence agencies told Congress is the USA Freedom Act would have greater penetration. They would be more likely to stop a terrorist with the tools in the USA Freedom Act. And so facts matter, and those are the facts, and you asked if I agreed that we have a real risk of another terrorist attack in America, and absolutely, we do. And I think that risk is exacerbated by President Obama’s indefensible attempts to bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America. And I would note that is a particular irony of Marco Rubio’s attack ad directed at me on national security, because one of the elements of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of 8 bill that Marco Rubio authored was to give Barack Obama more authority to admit Syrian refugees. And it would change the law, if it had passed, it would have changed the law so that you no longer require an individualized assessment of a refugee, but rather, it would have given Obama the authority to make a blanket admission of Syrian refugees, and it required no background checks whatsoever. Now you want to talk about a threat to national security, Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer giving Barack Obama a blank check to admit as many Syrian refugees as he wants with no background checks, that is a profound threat to national security, and that is why Rubio’s superPAC is trying to change the subject and attack precisely where they know that Senator Rubio’s record is vulnerable, because his amnesty bill weakened our national security.
HH: All right, two last question, Senator Cruz. One has to do with immigration. It’s one of the big differences between you and Senator Rubio. What would you do with the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States? I know you’re against amnesty, but what would you do with them? Do you think they have to leave? Do you believe in the Donald Trump deportation force?
TC: So Hugh, I think the way we should approach immigration is we should solve it one piece at a time. I do not support comprehensive reform that tries to answer everything all at once. But the question you just asked is where the conversation begins, particularly with Democrats who are pushing it. In my view, we should start where there’s bipartisan agreement. And there are two areas of significant bipartisan agreement. The first is that we have to secure the border and stop illegal immigration. There’s overwhelming bipartisan agreement, especially outside of Washington on that. The second area of bipartisan agreement is that we should improve and streamline legal immigration, that we should continue to welcome and celebrate legal immigrants, Americans by choice is what Reagan called them. I believe we should focus on both of those areas, so I have rolled out a very detailed immigration plan. It’s 11 pages, single spaced. It’s all on our website, www.tedcruz.org, www.tedcruz.org. So you can read it, chapter and verse. Most of the other candidates have not put out an immigration plan at all. Under the Cruz immigration plan, we will start by securing the border. Now that means number one, we will build a wall that works. Current U.S. law, and you know this very well, Hugh, requires 700 miles of double-layered fencing. And the Obama administration has only allowed 36 miles to be built. I will follow the law, and we will build a fence and a wall that works. We will triple the Border Patrol. We will increase fourfold fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. We will put in place a biometric exit/entry system on visas. We will put in place a strong E-verify system. You can’t get a job without demonstrating you’re here legally. We will end catch and release, which is the Obama administration policy. When they catch an illegal immigrant, of giving them a summons and asking them to come back to court, and a whole bunch of them never show up. We will end the Obama administration’s policy of releasing criminal illegal aliens. We will deport criminal illegal aliens. And all of that will be put in place first. My view is the first thing we should do is secure the border. We will also end President Obama’s amnesty, rescind his illegal executive orders. And the President uses the money from legal immigrants to fund his amnesty program. Instead, I would use that money to improve legal immigration, to decrease the paperwork, the bureaucracy, the waiting period. And so your question, what do you do about the people who are here illegally? Once we secure the border, you stop filling the boat that sinking, a number of people start to go home voluntarily every year to be with their families. That population will start shrinking. After that, you deport the criminal illegal aliens. The population continues to shrink. After that, you put in place strong E-verify so those here illegally can’t get jobs. The population continues to shrink. And then once we have finally demonstrated to the American people that we have secured the border, the problem’s solved, it’s not a promise from a politician, it’s not empty words, it’s been done, then and only then, I think we should have a conversation with the American people about what we should do about whatever smaller population remains. But I don’t think we should start there at the front end. We should start with border security, and that’s what I’ll do as president.
HH: Fair answer. Last question, it is reported that earlier today you told a group of Iowa voters that Donald Trump is simply not going to be the Republican nominee. Mr. Trump responded in a press conference saying that’s something you had to say. What did you say, Senator Cruz, and what do you mean by it?
TC: (laughing) Well, Hugh, as you know, the mainstream media is trying desperately to pick a fight between me and Donald Trump. And so at every press stop, they basically ask a question, please insult Donald Trump, please say something nasty. And I consistently laugh and refuse to do so. I like Donald Trump. Others have thrown rocks at him. I ain’t going to do it. I’m going to keep the focus on substance. Now what I also say is listen, we are campaigning to win. I don’t believe Donald Trump is going to be the nominee. I don’t believe Ben Carson is or Marco Rubio is, or Jeb Bush is or anybody else is. I believe we’re going to win the nomination, and we’re going to win the general in November, 2016, and so I’m working every day to earn the support of Donald Trump supporters. I’m working every day to earn the support of Ben Carson supporters and Rubio supporters and Jeb Bush supporters. We’re working to reassemble the old Reagan coalition. And what is unbelievably encouraging, you know, Hugh, we’re in the middle of a three-day tour through Iowa, 16 counties. And everywhere we’re going, we’re seeing standing room only. You know, Saturday night, we went to a Casey’s in Sheraton, Iowa, small town. Casey’s is a service station and restaurant, and at a gas station at 11:00 at night on a Saturday night, we had 70, 80, 100 people packed into a gas station. We’re seeing that kind of energy and excitement as conservatives are uniting. And if that continues to happen, we win. What the Washington establishment wants to do is divide conservatives. They want some conservatives here, some Evangelicals over there, some libertarians over there, some Tea Party folks over there. And what is so encouraging is we see conservatives coming together, together, together. We’ve had over 500,000 contributions at www.tedcruz.org, and if that keeps happening, if conservatives unite, we win. And that’s what we’re working every day to bring together and make happen.
HH: Senator Cruz, thank you, and I leave you with the admonition to revisit your Ohio State prediction and your lobbying of the college football playoff board, because I think that…
TC: You know, I’ll tell you what, Hugh. Let’s take a Solomonic answer and cut the baby in half. Since the Iowa and South Carolina primaries are coming up soon, let’s start with the Iowa-Clemson national championship game this year, and since Ohio is a critical swing state, next year as we’re approaching the general, I’ll agree with you that Ohio and Florida can go to the national championship next year when they vote for us and ensure that we end eight years of the disaster of the Obama-Clinton domestic and foreign policies.
HH: Senator Ted Cruz, always a pleasure, thank you, Senator. See you in Las Vegas.
TC: (laughing) Take care, Hugh.
End of interview.