CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript: Obamacare and the Tea Party



BASH: One republican determined to defund Obamacare is freshman senator, Ted Cruz.


CRUZ: We've all seen this movie before. What happens next is President Obama and Harry Reid are going to scream and yell those mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government. One side or the other has to blink, how do we win this fight? Don't blink.


BASH: Joining me now, Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Jim DeMint, former Republican North Carolina -- excuse me, South Carolina senator and currently the president of the conservative, Heritage Foundation.

Gentlemen, the clock is ticking on this fight over health care. Some of the provisions kick in on October 1st. Candy Crowley sat down with Sen. Ted Cruz to talk about all that and I want to play that and I want to talk about the fact that it actually started with another interesting political controversy and that is that is a question about Ted Cruz's birth place.


CROWLEY: I have to get this birth certificate off the table. I think it's fairly cool that you have dual citizenship. You could go run for the Canadian parliament. You can go run for president. What's wrong with that?

CRUZ: Well, look, I think it's the silly season in politics. I was born in 1970 in Calgary, Canada. My parents were working there in the oil and gas business. My mother was a U.S. citizen by birth, born in Wilmington, Delaware. And so, under U.S. law, I'm an American citizen by birth. And, when I was four, we moved back to Texas.

So, I grew up in Houston, Texas, always been my home. And when I was a kid, my mom told me that if I ever wanted to, I could affirmatively choose to claim Canadian citizenship, but I got a U.S. passport when I was in high school. I never did anything to affirmatively claim citizenship, so I thought that was the end of the matter.

And then the "Dallas Morning News" run a headline where they went and talk with some immigration lawyers that said technically, the immigration lawyers said that I still had dual citizenship. And so, the question was raised, well, if you do, would you renounce your Canadian citizenship? And I said, well, look, if that's right, then sure.

Because serving as a U.S. senator, I was an American by birth and serving as a U.S. senator, I think it's appropriate that I'd be only an American.

CROWLEY: And you know how it's being interpreted, though, with, oh, clearing the way for a 2016 presidential run. You want to get this issue off the table --

CRUZ: Listen, there's a lot of silliness. I thought it was a reasonable question when the "Dallas Morning News" asked for my birth certificate, so I gave it to them.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to health care, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens of any state. Let's say you're successful in defunding Obamacare, the next day, what do you tell those 6.2 or something million Texans?

CRUZ: Well, number one, Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country. And there's bipartisan agreement that it isn't working, that it's killing jobs, that it's forcing people to have their hours forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week, that it's driving up the cost of health insurance, that it's causing people to lose their health insurance because businesses are dropping.

And so, the first thing I would say is the single biggest thing we can do to restore economic growth, to bring jobs back is to defund Obamacare.

CROWLEY: But that doesn't help those 6.2 million.

CRUZ: Well, it does, because those numbers -- if you keep seeing employers dropping health insurance, you'll see more and more people unable to afford health care, more and more people losing their health care. Look, once Obamacare is defunded and repealed, there's a great deal we can do on health care reform. I think three reforms are most important.

Number one, we should allow people to purchase health insurance in all 50 states. Right now, it's illegal --

CROWLEY: Cross state purchasing.

CRUZ: And the advantage of that, the biggest barrier to getting health insurance right now is cost, because many people can't afford health insurance.

CROWLEY: Do you think it's right that so many people in this country cannot afford health care and therefore do not have it?

CRUZ: Well, no, and that's why I want to fix that. Secondly, I think we need to expand health savings account, to make it easier to say in a tax advantage way to take care of prevention, to take care of routine medical needs. And third, I think we need to delink health insurance from employment.

If you or I get fired, you don't loses your car insurance, you don't lose your house insurance, you don't lose your life insurance. There's no reason you should lose your health insurance, and of all --


CRUZ: That's exactly right. We should have health insurance policies that are personal, that affordable.

CROWLEY: Are you getting calls in your office from people seeking direction on how to sign up in this health exchanges? Will you or have you helped those people?

CRUZ: You know, we have not been getting significant calls in that regard. We have been getting calls from people saying, please stop Obamacare. Please stop this train wreck. Would you help someone who called and said I want to sign --

CRUZ: Look, we have a major constituent service operation that helps anyone dealing with the government

CROWLEY: Including signing up for something you don't --

CRUZ: Oh, sure, sure. Look, it's the job of someone representing -- you know, I'm honored to represent 26 million Texans and dealing with the government is inherently frustrating. It's inherently confusing. And one of the things that our office takes very seriously is trying to help Americans deal with the government.

CROWLEY: Do you agree with the fact that if someone actually does not support defunding Obamacare, if there are Republican that they ought to be replaced?

CRUZ: What I agree with is I think now is the single best time to stop Obamacare, because there's bipartisan agreement that it's not working. The wheels are coming of. And because defunding it, if it doesn't happen now, it's likely never to happen.

CROWLEY: The president is never going to sign a bill that defunds Obamacare.

CRUZ: You know, you may be convinced to that.

CROWLEY: You're not convinced to that?

CRUZ: I am not at all.

CROWLEY: This is his signature. This is what they consider his signature achievement, so far, of his administration in its fifth year.

CRUZ: Here's what I think should happen. The House of Representatives should pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government in its entirety, every aspect of the federal government, except Obamacare, and it should explicitly prohibit any funding for Obamacare mandatory or discretionary. And I filed legislative language in the Senate to do that.

Now, the next stage, we know how this play goes forward. President Obama and Harry Reid will scream and holler that the mean nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government. And at that point, Republicans have to do something we haven't done in a long time. Stand up and win the argument.

We have to stand up and say, no, we want to keep the government open. We have voted to keep the government open, to fund the government. Why is President Obama threatening to shut the government down, to force Obamacare down the threats -- the throats of the American people.

CROWLEY: You will need 41 Republicans. How close were you?

CRUZ: We do not have the votes right now. We need 41 Republicans in the Senate or we need 218 Republicans in the House. And that will only happen, and you know what, this fights is likely to heat up in the month of September. That's going to be when the battle is engaged. And, I'm convinced there's a new paragon in politics that actually has Washington very uncomfortable.

It has politicians in both parties very uncomfortable. And that new paradigm is the rise of the grassroots, the ability of grassroots activist to demand of their elected officials they do the right thing. And I believe if we see a grassroots tsunami, that is going to cause Republicans and Democrats to listen to the people.

CROWLEY: But it's going to take a tsunami?

CRUZ: It is going to take a tsunami and I'm going to do everything I can to encourage that tsunami.

CROWLEY: But what about you lost? You lost. This has been put into law. I mean, this is the argument on the other side. It's already law, why not just get on board and try it?

CRUZ: Because it's not working and it's hurting Americans. And by the way, the people it's hurting the most are the most vulnerable among us. The people who are losing their jobs are young people or Hispanics or African-Americans or single moms. I don't think that's fair, I don't think that's right.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to a couple of political issues. One of them is, do you see yourself supporting incumbents during primary challenges or would you entertain supporting a challenge?

CRUZ: I have not made a definite decision on that. I think it is likely that I'll stay out of all incumbent races on either side.

CROWLEY: Would you support Mitch McConnell versus a Tea Party candidate? Would you support Lindsey Graham versus a Tea Party candidate? Would you support a Lamar Alexander versus a Tea Party candidate.

CRUZ: I think it is likely that I'll stay out of all incumbent races. Now, listen, I intend to be very involved in 2014 in open seats and working to help support strong conservative candidates. I think 2014 is a very favorable environment for Republicans to retake the Senate.

CROWLEY: Chris Christie in one of his latest moves as New Jersey governor has outlawed therapy designed to turn gay people straight for children 18 and under. What do you think of that decision?

CRUZ: You know, I like Chris Christie. I think he is a straight forward, brash sometimes blunt speaker. I think he's someone who has managed to stand up and defend his principles in a state that is historically not very friendly to Republicans. And I am glad for that. The decisions that states make locally about health care, I think are best left to the states.

CROWLEY: Could you see yourself on a ticket with Chris Christie?

CRUZ: You know, I am not going to speculate about the future. I can tell you, my focus is 100 percent on the U.S. Senate, because the Senate right now is the battleground.

CROWLEY: So, if it says -- if I read and I did that you were, quote, "seriously mulling" running in 2016, that's incorrect?

CRUZ: You know, I find it amusing these stories that speculate about I don't even know what seriously mulling means. What I can tell you --

CROWLEY: -- you really thinking about it.

CRUZ: I understand in the media, it's fun to cover the game. It's fun to cover politics all the time. But, we've got huge challenges in this country. I am a big, big believer that good policy makes good politics. That if you stand up, you'd do the right thing, need to roll up your sleeve, you try to work with Republicans, with Democrats, with anyone who'll work together to get our economy moving, to bring jobs back, but the rest of it the politics will take care of itself.