Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, R-Texas, unloaded on Republican leadership in the House and Senate and vowed to follow through on his promises should he be elected president.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Cruz said Republican leaders, especially in the Senate, are “making it easier for Barack Obama and [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid to add trillions in debt.”
"The truth of the matter is Republican leadership are the most effective Democrat leaders we've ever seen. They've passed more Democratic priorities than Harry Reid ever could,” Cruz said. But even after House Speaker John Boehner announced he would relinquish his position and retire from Congress, Cruz would not go so far as to call for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to step down.
Cruz was elected to the Senate with little establishment support among a tea party wave in 2012. Since then he has built notoriety for bucking his party’s leaders and fighting for his agenda regardless of consequence. He played a leading role in the government shutdown in 2013 over Obamacare.
As Congress is set to grapple with the debt limit, the Congressionally determined limit of federal borrowing, Cruz said Republicans should get something – “anything” - out of agreeing to lift it.
“You know, to be honest, what I'd like to see on the debt limit is Republican leaders fight for something, for Pete's sake. Anything,” he said.
Cruz, now a presidential contender, said he is more qualified than any of his competitors to take on “the Washington cartel," which includes the Republican establishment.
“When it comes to promising, what I promised is that I would fight with every breath in my body to stop the outta control spending and the debt that is bankrupting our country, to stop Obamacare, to protect our nation,” he told moderator Chuck Todd.
The latest fundraising numbers show Cruz with an impressive haul, raising more than $12 million and having $13.8 million on hand, which is more than the other Republican candidates, including Jeb Bush.
He said the success behind his campaign is that people are “furious” with Washington.
“And I think the reason why our campaign is seeing incredible momentum and enthusiasm is-- is people recognize, they want someone who'll just do what he said he would do,” Cruz said. “It-- it ain't that complicated."
Cruz polls consistently in the second tier of candidates, behind front runner Donald Trump. In the latest NBC News online poll released last week, Cruz was tied for fourth garnering 6 percent of support.
As for Trump, Cruz said he has been good for the Republican primary because he is someone “who will stand up to Washington.”
But Cruz noted that once his supporters become “educated,” they would start backing him.
"Well, the natural follow up if that's the question is, who has actually stood up to Washington?" Cruz said. “If you're looking for a candidate who the career politicians in Washington will embrace, I'm not your guy. “
But Cruz has made few friends in Washington, which some say could impact his ability to get things done as president. His response: “if you're looking for someone who's running to be a member of the club, that's not me.”
As for the race for Speaker of the House, Cruz refused to weigh in. He also refused to call Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis, the reluctant leading contender, conservative enough.
“I have said consistently I'm gonna stay outta that,” he said.
As for foreign policy, Cruz said he opposed any involvement in Syria, even as Russia has begun a military campaign to help boost Syrian president Bashar Asad.
“Look, we have no business sticking our nose in that civil war,” he said.