According to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, it’s his colleagues, more than anyone, who should be blamed for the failure of the defund-Obamacare campaign — and he expects conservatives to remember come primary season.
“Unfortunately, rather than supporting House Republicans, a significant number of Senate Republicans actively, aggressively, and vocally led the effort to defeat House Republicans, to defeat the effort to defund Obamacare,” Cruz says in an interview with National Review Online. “Once Senate Republicans did that, it crippled the chances of this effort, and it caused the lousy deal.”
When pressed to cite specific Republican senators who may face primary trouble, Cruz refuses — “I’m not interested in a battle of personalities.” But he strongly urges conservatives to hold those lawmakers “accountable.”
“As with every decision elected officials make, the consequences of those decisions are up to the American people,” Cruz says. “But I will say this: From Day One in office, I’ve urged the American people to hold every elected official accountable, and far too many elected officials are not listening to the American people. . . . When you’ve got 10 to 20 Senate Republicans going on television, day after day after day, saying, ‘we cannot win, this is a fool’s errand, we will lose, nothing will happen, we will surrender,’ and blaming Republicans every step of the way, it eliminates the ability to get a positive outcome.
“Now, I have publicly said it is likely that I will stay out of all incumbent primaries,” he continues. “But every elected official has to make the case to the grassroots in his or her state on why he or she is effectively fighting for them.” When asked whether using the word “likely” means he’s leaving room to back a challenger, Cruz repeats the line, saying it’s “likely” he’ll stay out.
Looking ahead, Cruz is also unwilling to rule out a fiscal standoff or shutdown in 2014 over the debt ceiling or government funding. “There will be plenty of time to discuss possible strategic steps going forward, and in my view, the overarching focus should remain on providing real relief to the Americans who are hurting because of Obamacare, and on restoring jobs and economic growth,” he says. “That will remain my focus, and I hope it will be the focus of House Republicans and Senate Republicans, joined together and united.”
Cruz knows many Senate Republicans are unlikely to appreciate his advice to conservatives, or his appetite for another showdown early next year. He doesn’t care, though, because he believes his push to stop Obamcare and connect the party to disenchanted voters beyond the Beltway is critical to the GOP’s future success. “That transformation, shifting the power from the closed rooms in Washington, from the lobbyists and monied interests on K Street, and back to the American people, is the most important fight,” he says.
“I cannot help if others choose to launch personal assaults and insults at me,” Cruz says. “What I can control is how I respond, and I have not and will not respond in kind. Instead, I was elected to do a job, and that is to represent 26 million Texans. . . . Regardless of the attacks, my focus remains on the substance.”
“Every day, I jump out of bed with a smile on my face, because it is a joy to have the opportunity to stand with the American people and work to help restore people’s faith and optimism in our nation,” he concludes. “It’s an incredible honor to play a small role in expanding the American dream.”