Sen. Ted Cruz declined to say whether he would vote for his fellow Texan, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, in next week's Republican primary, despite Cruz's avowed affection for the state's senior senator.
"I like John Cornyn,” Cruz said Thursday in a Politico Playbook breakfast interview. "He and I have worked together very closely. We’ve agreed on the vast majority of things, there are some areas on which we disagree.”
Cruz said his decision not to disclose his choice in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary — in which Rep. Steve Stockman is one of several challengers to Cornyn — stems from him not wanting to meddle in the primaries of sitting Republicans. But he said his decision is not iron clad and left open the possibility that he may still get involved in primaries this year.
“What I have said is that I am likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries,” Cruz said. “I haven’t put that in concrete.”
Asked why he hedged, Cruz said, “Because things can change in politics.” Cruz also said he disagrees with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, where Cruz is a vice chairman, which has sought to check the influence of the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project.
“I disagree with what the NRSC has done,” Cruz said. “When I took on the role, leadership had told me they had learned the lessons from 2010 to stay out of primaries.”
He said “Washington insiders have a terrible record of picking winners and losers” and said the brightest stars of the Republican Party in the Senate are those who have had grass-roots support, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
“Every one of whom won with the support of the tea party, every one of whom won with the support of groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund, and every one of whom won over the passionate objection of Republican leadership in Washington,” Cruz said. “And I think there is a lesson to be learned from that: those candidates were listening to the people who were tired of business as usual.”
Cruz, who upset the establishment GOP candidate to win his seat in 2012, kept up his criticism of Republican leadership, saying they are averse to taking risks.
“I strongly disagree with some of the decisions the Republican leadership has made this past year,” Cruz said.
“There are number of people in Washington who think the way you win elections is you put your head down, you don’t rock the boat, and you don’t take any risks,” Cruz continued. “I think there is no basis for this view.”
He said that has been the strategy for the past four cycles and three of those were “disasters.”
“The only good congressional cycle in the last four was 2010,” Cruz said. “In 2010 we drew a line in the sand, we said, ‘We are going to fight with every ounce of strength we’ve got to Obamacare, we are going to stop the out of control spending, the debt’ and it was an epic tsunami of a victory.”
Cruz said he believes Republican leaders are going back to that same losing strategy in 2014. His approach has strained relationships in the Senate, but he said he tries to remain cordial and respectful
“There have been some very candid discussions in the Senate lunchroom,” Cruz said.
Cruz was asked to say the first word that came to his mind on several political figures. He answered “strategery” to President George W. Bush and Karl Rove. He responded “crazy Uncle Joe” to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and “imperial” to President Barack Obama.
On Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cruz responded “misguided.” He gave her a 40 percent chance of becoming president if she runs, citing baggage from Obama that will hold her back.
Cruz, who could also run for president in 2016, refused to disparage any potential rivals for the nomination.
He also said he likes to play video games and spends a lot of time on Twitter.
“I read every nasty left wing tweet. ... But I prefer the funny ones” Cruz said, adding that he has also been threatened on Twitter.
“It’s the democratization of the media,” Cruz said. “There was a time a few decades ago where there were a few networks who decided ‘this is news.' ... I think its tremendous, the democratization of the media.”