By BOB PALMER
After Ted Cruz, R-Tex, spent more than an hour answering questions from voters, taking selfies and shaking hands in Jefferson’s Riverport Barbecue, he walked out the front door and down the street to meet with the Jimplecute for a one-on-one interview right off of Lafayette Street.
Cruz only mentioned President Trump’s name at the end of the interview, never disagreed with him, but seemed to be aware he might run for the highest office in the land again, after winning a second term in the U.S. Senate.
On federal spending, Cruz expressed support for federal term limits and a federal balanced budget amendment before pivoting his answer to parts of his earlier stump speech: cut taxes and regulations.
Noting the federal debt has quadrupled in the last 16 years, Cruz asserted, “no doubt billions and billions of dollars can be cut from spending.”
“I am working to change the culture in Washington,” Cruz said. “We need term limits, a federal balanced budget amendment, economic growth and why I am focused on jobs to pay down the debt.”
Finally, at the end, the freshman senator who came the closest to beating President Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries was asked about his thoughts on the president with an average approval rating of 39% according to Gallup.
Following is a transcript of the interview with audio also available:
Jimplecute: You were an ivy league debater. One of your better quotes is that Republicans have to “win the debate.” With Trump’s approval hanging around 40% and the majority in the Senate perhaps under threat, are Republicans winning the debate? if so, how are they doing it. And if not, why not?
Cruz: Well as you will know, Margaret Thatcher famously said, “First you win the argument. Then you win the vote.” There is no doubt we have to continue to take the case to the American people and I think we’re seeing real results. The economy is booming, particularly in Texas. Texas is doing very well. And the reason is, in the last year and a half, we have seen a historic tax cuts reducing taxes on small businesses, farmers and ranchers and job creators, reducing taxes on hardworking Texas families. We have seen the Obama job killing regulations pulled back. That combination has produced the lowest unemployment in decades. We are seeing real results, especially when it comes to young people – young people coming out of school. They are seeing something they didn’t see a few years ago, they didn’t see into the Obama economy. They are seeing new job offers, two, three, four job offers. They are seeing wages going up. They are seeing brighter opportunity to pay down their student loans. So there are a lot of folks in the media, there a lot of Democratic politicians, that are trying to pitch to young people socialism. Well socialism doesn’t work. If you want a brighter future, if you want low taxes, low regulation, and lots and lots of jobs, that’s the case we are making. That’s the case that I’m making every day and that’s the case we need to make to the American people.
Jimplecute: Some in the Republican Party, on the right, are arguing for a drastic reduction in federal spending to force a balanced budget, and perhaps, even a surplus. Where do you stand on that proposal?
Cruz: There is no doubt there are billions of dollars that can and should be cut from the federal budget period. I have introduced detailed proposals to cut federal spending. In 2000, the national debt was just $5 trillion. Eight years later, at the end of Georgia W. Bush’s tenure, it had doubled to $10 trillion. Eight years later, at the end of Obama’s tenure, it had doubled again to $20 trillion. That is a quadrupled increase in just two presidents. We can do better. We’ve got to reign in spending, but part of it is changing the culture of Washington. That means passing federal term limits so you don’t have politicians trying to buy votes and get their reelection. That means passing a federal balanced budget amendment. But the most important piece is economic growth. It’s the reason I am so singularly focused on jobs, jobs, jobs. Because the way you get economic growth is through cutting taxes, reducing job killing regulations. Every time we’ve done that – we did it in the 1920s under Calvin Coolidge, in the 1960s under JFK, We did it in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. Every time we cut taxes and regulation, we see jobs and growth that pays down the debt. That is the only force strong enough to turn around the debt and deficit and stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids.
Jimplecute: Last pair. You opposed President Trump in the primaries in 2016. Since he has become president, it would only be human to at some point, somehow to say, “I would’ve done that differently or I would’ve done that better.” What were one of those moments for you?
Cruz: Well listen, we had a vigorous campaign in 2016. We campaigned very hard. We came in second place and we came very close to winning. Heidi and I are immensely grateful for the opportunity to travel that journey. We were immensely grateful to the thousands upon thousands of grassroots activists who poured their heart, their passion, their time, their energy into the campaign. It was both humbling and inspiring to see their commitment. There are so many Texans and Americans fighting for our country. At the end of the day, President Trump won he won the election. The democratic process reached its resolution. And, I’ll tell you, the week after the election, in 2016, I got on the plane and I flew to New York and I went to Trump Tower and I sat down with President Trump. And I told him at the time I said, “Mr. President, we have a historic opportunity. A Republican president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress. We can’t blow it. We can’t waste it. This doesn’t happen very often.” And I told him, “Mr. President, I want to do everything humanly possible to lead the fight for us to deliver on our promises: cutting taxes, cutting regulations, repealing Obama care, confirming strong constitutionalist judges. And every day for the past year and a half, that is what I sought to do is to work side by side with the president. Work in the Senate to bring Republicans together, to deliver on our promises. And a year and a half into it, I am deeply gratified for the successes we’ve had.
Jimplecute: Was there a moment where you may have said, “Well played Donald.”
Cruz: Oh well, listen, when he won! You know people ask me what I would have done differently. What I would have done differently is won. There is no doubt that President Trump is a master of messaging, and of branding and he drove the media narrative non stop in the 2016 election cycle. And it worked to his advantage. But at the end of the day you can drive yourself crazy looking back with hindsight. We’ve got too much work to do. I think Texans are interested in results. I think they’re interested in jobs. The approach I tried to take to Washington is that I ignore the political circus, ignore the sniping, the attacks, the personal attacks, the mudslinging, and I tried to keep my focus on substance jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s what Texans care about. My two priorities have always been in the US Senate: defending freedom, the American free enterprise system, and defending the constitution. And I think those are the priorities of an overwhelming majority of Texans.
Jimplecute: Thank you for your time Sir. Travel safe.
Cruz: I appreciate it.
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