Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) faced howls of laughter from an audience in Washington, D.C. on Thursday when he claimed that he “didn’t want a shutdown” over President Barack Obama’s health care reform law.
At The Atlantic‘s Washington Ideas Forum, Fox News host Chris Wallace pointed out to the Texas Republican that many of his colleagues thought he hurt the party by forcing the government shutdown instead of letting Obamacare fail on its own.
“That ignores who I think was responsible for the shutdown,” Cruz replied. “I didn’t want a shutdown. Throughout the whole thing, I said we shouldn’t have a shutdown.”
That remark elicited laughter from the forum audience.
“Now, folks here can disagree,” Cruz said, turning to the crowd. “But repeatedly, I voted to keep the government open.”
“In my view based on where things are right now, I think stopping Obamacare is the essence of pragmatism,” he added. “The most pragmatic thing we could do is say, ‘Listen, this isn’t working. Let’s start over.’”
Wallace then turned to the 2016 race, but Cruz insisted that he was focused on the Senate instead of running for president.
“But, sir,” Wallace said. “At the risk of being a smart aleck, for somebody who is focused on the Senate, you’re spending a lot of time in Iowa.”
“Well, I’ll tell ya, I went on a lovely pheasant hunt in Iowa,” Cruz quipped. “I’m spending a lot of time all over the country and the reason is — since I’ve been elected, I think we’ve done 86 events in Texas, I think we’ve been to 14 or 15 states all over the country — and the reason is, one of the things that has confused some observers, I’m not devoting my time and energy to try and make the case in smoke-filled rooms in Washington. I think Washington’s broken.”
“Can you envision a situation where you would decide, I’m the guy to lead the crusade?” Wallace wondered.
“I intend to support whoever is standing up and leading, whoever is effectively defending conservative principles, defending free market principles, defending the Constitution, bringing us back to defending liberty,” Cruz explained. “That’s who as a voter I intend to support.”
“And it’s my hope that we see a thousand flowers bloom, that we see lots of people stepping up providing that leadership because that’s what it’s going to take to turn the country around,” he concluded.
“I never thought I’d hear you espousing the views of Chairman Mao,” Wallace chuckled.
Watch the video below from The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum, broadcast Nov. 14, 2013.