Upending the "Washington cartel" of career politicians may be the theme of Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign for the White House, but the Texas Republican is not weighing in on a bid to oust John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, from his role as speaker.
"Questions of leadership in the House are questions to be decided by Republican members of the House," Cruz said when asked whether he would be supportive of a resolution filed by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., to vacate the chair . (Cruz has been close to many of the House Republicans who have fought regularly with Boehner.)
Nor would he say, in a Thursday interview with CQ Roll Call, if he regretted not getting involved in the 2014 Republican primary in Kentucky, when now-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faced a tea party-backed challenge from Matt Bevin (now the Republican gubernatorial nominee).
"I made a decision early on in the last election cycle that I was going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries. That I was neither going to support Republican incumbents nor challengers to incumbents," Cruz said. "Any incumbent politician necessarily enjoys a tremendous advantage in re-election, and I believe it is the responsibility of each of us to make the case to the men and women that elected us that we are continuing to honor the promises we made on the campaign trail."
While he declined the opportunity to align himself against Boehner and McConnell in the specific campaigns against the two GOP leaders, the first-term senator did speak to what he views as the disconnect between the establishment and the kind of voters that he hopes will be on his side in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina during his 2016 White House run.
"Right now there is a divide between Republican leadership and the grass-roots conservatives who gave us majorities in both houses. The priorities of Republican leadership far too often reflect the lobbying priorities of K Street rather than the values of the grass-roots conservative activists who turned out by the millions to produce two historic tidal wave elections in 2010 and 2014. I believe each of us should honor the promises we made to the men and women who elected us," Cruz said. "I intend to continue doing everything I can to urge every Republican, and for that matter every Democrat, to do exactly that."
Counting Cruz's floor speech a week ago, in which he said Republicans were lied to about a "special deal" to get the Export-Import Bank revival tacked on to the six-year highway bill that the Senate passed Thursday , there have now been at least two occasions where Cruz has publicly suggested McConnell has been less than truthful with him.
Cruz was a vice chairman at the National Republican Senatorial Committee throughout the last cycle, but it was an open secret he had minimal involvement. In his recently published book, "A Time for Truth," Cruz said he had been misled by McConnell about the NRSC's role in races with incumbent GOP senators , even though incumbents are traditionally the key constituency of party committees.
As for either seeking endorsements for his 2016 presidential bid or taking steps to back the many vulnerable incumbent Republicans on the ballot in 2016, Cruz said it was a bit too early for either conversation.
"At this point I think those questions are somewhat premature," said Cruz, adding that decisions about endorsements would come closer to the election.
Cruz again said there was no way Republicans were elected by telling conservatives they intended to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank.
"I challenge you to find a single Republican senator who campaigned in his or her state saying 'I will reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, and bring home the bacon of funding giant corporations with taxpayer loan guarantees.' Not a one of them said that to the voters who elected them," Cruz said. "When we campaign, there are a great many campaign conservatives. You look at the top two issues in the 2014 election. They were number one, we will do everything humanly possible to stop Obamacare. Number two, we will do everything humanly possible to stop President Obama's unconstitutional executive amnesty. We have done neither."