Sen. Ted Cruz on fiery hearing over gun control

TX senator reacts to clash with Sen. Feinstein


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 15, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TX: It seems to me that all of us should begin as our foundational document with the Constitution. Would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books?


Senator, I have been on this committee for 20 years. I have studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well-educated. And I thank you for the lecture.

So, I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views.

CRUZ: And, yet, at the same time, I would note that she chose not to answer the question that I asked, which is, in her judgment, would it be consistent with the Constitution for Congress to specify which books are permitted and which are not and to use the specific number...

FEINSTEIN: The answer is obvious. No.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: OK, that went well, Dianne Feinstein apparently still stewing over that nasty tit-for-tat with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, calling him arrogant and patronizing in an interview today.

To Senator Cruz himself, ready for some responding today.

Senator, good to have you. What did you make of that, arrogant and patronizing?

CRUZ: Oh, Neil, it's quite great to be with you.

Listen, other senators can choose to hurl whatever insults they like my direction. I have no intention of reciprocating; 26 million people in Texas expect me to come here every day and represent them and in particular to raise the sorts of questions that I raised at that hearing, which is, what are the limits of the Constitution?

And I got to tell you there are a lot of politicians in Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, who have lost sight of the constitutional limitations. I have to tell you, the reaction at the Judiciary Committee hearing when I raised the textual limitations of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights, those reactions were reminiscent to Nancy Pelosi's reaction when she was asked where in the Constitution is the authority for ObamaCare?

And her answer was -- quote -- "Are you serious? Are you serious?"

There are a lot of people who don't think it's serious to recognize the limits of the Constitution. I think that's the obligation of every one of us.

CAVUTO: She seemed in her approach to be saying, look here, whippersnapper, I have been around here for, whatever it was, 20 years.


CAVUTO: And you have got to get - learn your place. Now, that is just my interpretation here. But the others have said, as I'm sure it's not news to you, Senator, that as a freshman senator, you are in a unique and special club and you're not following the rules of decorum in that club. What do you say?

CRUZ: Well, I think there are several other senators who have decided to insult me personally.

And my consistent pattern is, I'm not going to do the same. They can throw any insults they want. My focus has been and will remain on the substance. For example, the response that was ultimately given in that exchange was that the Heller Supreme Court decision gave Congress the authority to represent assault weapons.

But what nobody got into is what Heller said. Let me point out, Neil, I know exactly what Heller said because I represented 31 states in the Heller case, was an active part of litigating it. And what the Supreme Court said in Heller is that the Second Amendment allows -- quote -- "dangerous and unusual weapons to be prohibited."

And then the example it gave was machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. But it also said that weapons that are in -- quote -- "common use" cannot be prohibited consistent with the Second Amendment. And one of the many problems with the so-called assault weapons ban is it's trying to ban a semiautomatic rifle, effectively a deer rifle with certain cosmetic features of which there are over four million in circulation.

And under the explicit terms the Supreme Court's decision in Heller, you cannot ban a firearm that is in common use by the American citizen ready to defend homes and their families. My focus is on the substance, not on whatever the emotion or anger might be on the other side.

CAVUTO: I see. But it's not just the other side, right, Senator?

There was a dustup with Senator McCain without calling him by name and the feeling being that you and maybe Senator Rand Paul were sort of representing a new wing of the party that wasn't...


CAVUTO: ... going to be following, for want of a better term, the old wing of the party. And then it got to be what seemed like a tit-for- tat between you guys and Senator McCain, an issue I raised with him just a little earlier. I want your reaction to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R- AZ: In an interview, I said that Senator Paul and Senator Cruz were wacko birds. That was inappropriate. And I apologize to them for saying that, because I respect them both.

And I respect what they stand for and what they believe in.


CAVUTO: How do you feel about Senator McCain?

CRUZ: Well, I appreciate Senator McCain's graciousness in saying that.

On the substance, if it makes us wacko birds to stand for liberty, to stand for the Constitution, then that is badge of honor I wear proudly. But, more substantively, I will point out yesterday was the 40th anniversary of John McCain's being released from a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam.

And I took to the Senate floor yesterday to commemorate and to honor John McCain for his valor, for his integrity, for his incredible courage to turn down early release and instead to spend years more in torture for his country.

And, so, whether -- whatever senators may choose to say disparaging things about me, I have no intention of doing the same. My focus, my job is to stand up for principles of liberty and to stand for the Constitution.


CAVUTO: So you get along with him. Right?

CRUZ: Oh, sure.

CAVUTO: Whatever inferences and bygones might have been there, they are gone?

CRUZ: You know, lots of folks say -- say things that sometimes they come to regret later.

I can't control what others say. What I can control is what I say. And my focus is consistently focused on the substance and the merits. Listen, we have got serious problems in this country. I don't think most Americans care about political bickering in Washington.

They do care about restoring economic growth, expanding opportunity in this country. And they also care about the Constitution. They care about a federal government that seems unlimited by the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson famously said, the Constitution serves as chains to bind the mischief of government. And so every day I view part of my responsibility to 26 million Texans to come in here and focus on the Constitution, because we take an oath to the Constitution. And that's an oath that I take very seriously.

CAVUTO: Very seriously.

And it gives the impression to some, not all, that maybe there is this battle royal going on inside the Republican Party for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, that some have even called it a civil war.

Do you think Republicans are having this great debate that has turned out to be a much larger fight that has been put on public display?

CRUZ: I think there is certainly a debate about what direction we should go in as Republicans.

2012 was obviously a lousy election year. Republicans got clobbered. And what I have been urging to everyone is that what we failed to do in 2012 was win the argument that free market principles work, and in particular they work for those struggling to climb the economic ladder.

I think every Republican on to have two words tattooed on their hands, growth and opportunity. We are stuck right now in stagnation. For four years in a row, we have had average economic growth of 0.8 percent a year. We have got to get growth back.

And biggest reason is, is that it's impacting hardest those who are least well-off among us, young people, African-Americans, Hispanics, single moms. Their lives have been made harder because the Obama policies aren't working. If we get back to free market policies that work, it will make it far easier for the people who are struggling to achieve the American dream. And that should be our passion every day.

CAVUTO: Senator Cruz, thank you very much.

CRUZ: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: By the way, Senator Cruz will be closing out the CPAC conference tomorrow night.

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