CLEMSON, South Carolina — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)–a likely 2016 presidential candidate–expects the GOP field for the 2016 presidential nomination to form by June of next year, he told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on the way to a tailgate event with several candidates for statewide and federal office at the Clemson University football game on Saturday.
Cruz–whom Breitbart News interviewed on the car ride from an earlier event in Spartanburg to the Clemson event–said that for now, he’s focused on helping the GOP retake the Senate but expects 2016 presidential decisions to come together after the election, early next year.
“For the next 25 days, my focus is single-minded on 2014. We have an historic opportunity to retake the U.S. Senate and retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader,” Cruz said, adding:
I am on the road almost every day traveling the country trying to turn out conservatives. If conservatives show up in November 2014, we’ll win the Senate–and we could win as many as 10-12 seats if conservatives show up and vote. That is my focus for the next 25 days. After the election, after the holidays, I expect the next cycle to get going in earnest next year. In all likelihood, the field will form sometime between January and June next year as different potential candidates make the decision whether or not they’re going to run.
As it pertains to the Republican primary in 2016, Cruz said the litmus test for GOP voters should be whether a given candidate has led on the battlefield of ideas against the left and political establishment as a whole.
“I think the critical question for any primary voter in terms of who to support is: Who is standing up and leading? That’s the test I intend to apply as a voter who will vote in the Republican primary in 2016,” Cruz said. Elaborating, Cruz stated:
We’re facing enormous challenges, fiscal and economic threats, threats to our Constitutional liberties, a world that keeps getting more and more dangerous as America has receded from leadership. What we should be looking to is who is standing up and leading? Who is making the case that the path we’re on isn’t working and there is a better path? We can get back to the free market principles. We can get back to the constitutional liberties that this country was founded upon. What I would encourage everyone who is thinking about this to do is stand up and lead.
During the interview on the way there, Cruz said he suspects about 12 U.S. senators or governors are planning to run for president, and he hopes that next year, many of them are leading on the issues of importance to the American people:
By any measure, there are probably a dozen senators or governors who are thinking about this. Every one of them I would urge … to stand up and lead. And don’t just lead on one or two issues. Lead on the issues of the day–lead on the threats to our liberty and the future of our kids. I’d be thrilled if a year from now you and I are sitting in a car talking and there are a half dozen Republicans who are standing up and leading and effectively making the case that the path we’re on isn’t working and there’s a better way. If we’re going to turn this country around, and I believe we are, the only way we’re going to do it is energizing and mobilizing the grassroots–building a grassroots army–to stand up together and pull this country back from the fiscal and economic cliff we’re facing, to restore our constitutional rights.
When asked what has surprised him most in just under two years in the U.S. Senate, Cruz said he has been most surprised by the cowardice of some Republicans he works alongside:
I was surprised at how unwilling so many Republicans were to stand up and fight. I understand coming out of the last election, President Obama was re-elected. Many elected Republicans were dispirited and demoralized. Many conservatives nationwide were dispirited and demoralized. And yet a big part of the reason President Obama was re-elected was because Republicans had not stood and fought effectively, had not made the case against the disaster that is the Obama agenda. Millions of conservatives nationwide stayed home.
Cruz said what he’s tried to do in the Senate is “number one: do what I said I would do” and “number two: tell the truth.” Cruz asserted:
It ought to be something we expect from all 535 members of Congress. That should be the bare minimum. That’s what we tell our children, and yet it says something about Washington that those are viewed as such radical acts. During the time I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve tried to urge my colleagues to do the same: Do what you said you would do, and tell the truth. The only path to achieving that in the long term is if the American people rise up and hold our elected officials accountable, every one of them in both parties, including me. The answer is not going to come from Washington; if you look to Washington, you will only be dispirited and demoralized. Washington is broken. The answer will have to come from the American people.
Before the interview, Cruz had just wrapped up an event, hosted by the Palladian View, focused on Republican women, where he noted that President Obama is waging a “war on women,” and he spoke of three women he said influenced him the most: his mother, his wife Heidi, and his aunt Sonia. After his remarks there, Cruz took questions from a panel of local reporters for two different television outlets, the local Spartanburg newspaper and a state lawmaker. The questions–which Cruz breezed through–ran the gamut of issues from spending to foreign policy to immigration to domestic violence to health care to nuclear waste disposal and more.
At the Clemson tailgate, Cruz joined Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson to rally conservatives among the thousands there to get-out-the-vote for Republicans in states around the country.
“We’re 25 days out from election day,” Cruz shouted from a bullhorn at the tailgate event, adding:
Twenty-five days out from what’s going to be a great election day. In November 2014, I’m convinced we’re going to retake the U.S. Senate and retire Harry Reid as majority leader. Now, Jeff [Duncan] is exactly right. You got a battleground Senate race not too far from here. The state of North Carolina, the incumbent Democrat, needs to lose her Obamacare exemption. She needs to discover life in the private sector. So every one of you who’s got family up in North Carolina, pick up the phone and call and tell them come out and vote in November.
Cruz mentioned, too, how he has compared President Barack Obama to ex-President Jimmy Carter “many times” and the current political environment to that which Carter created in the late 1970s.
“I think the parallels between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are uncanny,” Cruz said. “What happened in the Reagan revolution was it was a grassroots movement of people who held Washington accountable. The number one reason why I am encouraged and optimistic right now is that I see the same thing happening.” He continued, “What I am focusing my time on doing is trying to energize and mobilize the American people because that’s the only way we’re going to turn the country around.”
Later in the interview, Cruz said that “in every regard” Obama is “more extreme than Jimmy Carter.”
“The economic policies are similar but worse. The foreign policies are similar but worse. Just this past week, we saw Jimmy Carter calling out President Obama for his ineffective foreign policies. When Jimmy Carter is blasting you for being in-resolute on foreign policy, you know you’ve really done something wrong.” He went on to state:
The answer is much the same, which is the movement has to come from the people, as it did in 1980. Reagan never condescended to the American people. Instead, he spoke to the same basic values that Americans have always shared. Common sense values, values that every small town, every small business throughout this country have shared for hundreds of years. Live within your means. Don’t bankrupt your kids and grandkids. The media likes to characterize those views as radical or extreme.
Despite the political class’s characterization of such conservative views as “radical or extreme,” as Cruz says it does, he said he doesn’t “think [he’s] all that conservative.”
I just believe in the common sense principles this country was built on. If you get a room of 100 people together outside Washington and you ask them, “Should we live within our means? Should we bankrupt the country? Should we bankrupt our kids and grandkids? Should we trample on the Constitution?” you’d get widespread agreement outside of Washington that, of course, we should live within our means and not bankrupt our kids and not trample on the Constitution. And yet in Washington those views are characterized as extreme and radical. That distinction is also important because if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, and I think if she runs she is likely to be the Democratic nominee, Hillary has demonstrated a palpable condescension toward the American people.
Cruz added that he thinks Hillary Clinton hates the American people and has contempt for them–and plans to take them for granted to elevate her into power.
“She views all of us as ignorant rubes who need to be governed by our quote unquote ‘betters,'” Cruz said. “Jimmy Carter viewed the American people the same way. Barack Obama certainly views the American people the same way.” Drawing a contrast, Cruz said, “Part of the simple magic of Ronald Reagan is he simply gave voice to the underlying values of the American people. Speaking the truth is powerful. Speaking for working men and women, not the elites in Washington, is powerful.”