Sen. Cruz: US needs to focus on protecting national security

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 26, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And this is a Fox News alert. There are new developments regarding the crisis in Syria. Now, in just a moment, I will be joined by Texas Senator Ted Cruz with reaction.

But first, earlier today, Secretary of State John Kerry finally confirmed that chemical weapons were in fact used in last week's deadly attack that is believed to have killed hundreds.


SENATOR JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.


HANNITY: Now, the secretary went on to accuse the Assad regime of destroying evidence of the attack and he said President Obama was weighing options on how to respond. He gave no details about any timeline or any specifics of when and what the U.S. response will be.

Now, Kerry's comments just came hours after a United Nations team of investigators were fired upon by snipers at the site of the WMD attack.

So, while the president drags his feet on the response, what is stopping the Syrian government from targeting on its own people yet again?

Here with reaction to this and much more is Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Senator, thanks for being with us. What should the response be from your perspective?

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: Well, Secretary Kerry is right that Assad using chemical weapons is an outrage and it is wrong. But unfortunately missing from his statement and from the president's approach so far has been a focus on what the touch stone should be which is the vital U.S. national security interest of this country.

The United States Armed Forces is not -- doesn't exist to be a policeman for the world. And I certainly hope the reaction isn't simply lobbying some cruise missiles in to disagree with Assad's murderous actions. Rather, our focus should be on protecting our national security which, lead to two things.

Number one, under no circumstances should we be arming rebels who would be affiliated with Al Qaeda. And this administration has already suggested they want to arm the rebels with no reliable means or differentiating Al Qaeda for non-Al Qaeda.

And number two, our concern should be those chemical weapons, preventing them from falling into the hands of Hezbollah, preventing them from falling into the hands of Al Qaeda. That should be guiding our actions, not expressing some moral outrage from a university or faculty lab.

HANNITY: All right. And what he is saying is a more obscenity, yes, we agree. It's inexcusable, yes, we agree. But you mentioned firing some cruise missiles. That's been the talk that they're drawing the plans to do so. Is this going to be a so-called therapeutic bombing so they can just check off the box where they cross the red line and we responded, but that is it?

CRUZ: Look, if the objective is to make a symbolic step than that makes sense. If the objective is to protect our national security, it is difficult to see what a few cruise missiles would do. The focus should be the only justifiable reason for U.S. military forces to be engaged, for U.S. military might to be engaged, is to protect our national security. And sadly, that has been the missing variable from this administration's approach from the beginning as they allowed Assad to slaughter over hundred thousand of his people. And their focus hasn't been on protecting U.S. interest.

And, you know what's striking, Sean, is that Secretary Kerry and the president has said, they want to go to the United Nations for approval. How about going to the United States Congress? You know, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to declare war. And this president doesn't seem to view it as remotely a priority to go to Congress, to make the case while any military action is in our national security. And I think that's his responsibility to do.

HANNITY: Do you think the president has an obligation at this point to do that before any attack takes place?

CRUZ: I think the president has an obligation to make the case to Congress and the American people while any military action, if there is to be any. It is justified and focused on why it's focused on U.S. national security Congress. What it shouldn't be is just a symbolic gesture of disapproval -- it should rather be focused on protecting the citizens of America.

HANNITY: All right.

As we saw in the Arab Springs, as the president himself how push Mubarak out, they never saw the Muslim Brotherhood coming. Now, if you look, I think the larger question has got to be here, who is going to replace Assad number one, and number two, the Syrian opposition which was more secular and was more pro-American has now given way to the pro-Jihadist movement. Isn't it more likely that if Assad is cast aside that Islamic Jihadist Al Qaeda ties will take over with Al Qaeda ties?

HANNITY: Look, that is exactly right. Of nine major rebel groups, seven of them may well have some significant ties to Al Qaeda. And, you know, if Assad is toppled and replaced by a radical Islamist regime, what would be truly dangerous for the United States, for our allies, like Israel and Jordan, is for a radical Islamic government to seize control of those chemical weapons and to deploy them against us or our allies. That should be the focus of the president. And as we've seen throughout the Middle East, that has not been the focus of the president.

You know, Sean, it was striking when the protests were occurring in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood, that the protesters were waving banners that said President Obama supports Morsi, the United States supports the radical Islamic government that is oppressing us. What a sad state of affairs when the United States is arm and arm with the oppressive Islamist governments.

HANNITY: We have had a 30 months civil war, over a hundred thousand Syrians are dead. We've got many more displaced and it seems we have gotten to the point where our allies don't trust us and our enemies don't fear us. When you heard Vladimir Putin's comments, what did you take from that? I took from it, he doesn't care what Obama thinks.

HANNITY: Well, sadly that has been the pattern across the world.

Look, if there is one principle that has proved true from time of memorial, it is that bullies and tyrants don't respect weakness. And our friends have sadly grown to learn that the United States under this president has not been a resolute ally. And our enemies have learned that under this president, there is little to fear and the most dangerous escalation from this, is Assad's patron in Iran which is only seen, these occurrences, as further encouragement to continue to develop nuclear weapons, which I think would pose an enormous National Security threat to the United States.

HANNITY: You and Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee and Senator Rubio have been involved in this effort to defund ObamaCare. The more establishment Republican Party has come out pretty strongly dead set against it. You know, the only way it will happen is if a grass roots tsunami takes place in Washington. What are you looking for?

CRUZ: Look, that's exactly right. Let me tell you, Sean. We are getting real momentum. You know, there is a national website, don' Don' It has got as of a few minutes ago, 578,000 signatures on it. Every time in the past few weeks, I've got on Fox News, we have seen another 10 or 20,000 signatures. You know, I feel confident with the "Hannity" viewers and the loyal passion they have for freedom, that by the end of this show that we can break 600,000. If we hit --

HANNITY: Go ahead. Well, to me this is a deal killer. Because the Republicans don't stand, I appreciate the symbolic votes, but this is the real deal this time.

CRUZ: Yes, absolutely.

HANNITY: If you don't stand for it. I don't see a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, frankly.

CRUZ: Well, you know, sadly, Sean, there is one difference. Which is right now the people fighting the hardest against defunding ObamaCare are Republicans. You haven't seen Democrats on your show fighting against it. Why? Because the Republicans are all shooting at those who are trying to work with the grass roots to stop this disaster of a bill that is killing jobs, that's driving up insurance rates, that's hurting the American people.

HANNITY: I agree.

CRUZ: How do we win? First, we get 41 Republicans in the Senate to stand together in 218 Republicans in the House. That's number one. And the only way to do that is to get millions of Americans to go to Don' and hold our elected officials accountable.

But second, once millions of Americans are energized, they in turn can hold Democrats accountable. You know, if you are red state Democrat, if you're up for elections say in Arkansas and Louisiana and you start getting calls from 5,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 a year constituents, suddenly, this looks very, very different.

HANNITY: Yes. I agree with you.

Let me ask one last question because we are just running out of time, Senator, and I want to get this in. I know a lot has been made of the fact that your birth certificate and I guess you have renounced your Canadian citizenship. But it is not an issue for me. But it's interesting how many Democrats do not want you to get into the race for the presidency. Let me play for you the comments of Howard Dean and get your response.


FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN, D-VT.: Ted Cruz maybe a very good politician but he certainly doesn't know anything about health care.

These are crazy ideas that are from the far right. He's a slick spokesman. And God help us if he ever does get to be anything more than the senator from Texas.


HANNITY: God helps us if he ever won. But I want you to respond. What is your reaction -- what is your alternative that you are offering?

CRUZ: Look, there are Democrats that can choose to throw whatever rocks they want. Unfortunately, Governor Dean's approach is he likes a one size fits all approach from Washington. What I think makes sense is we should empower patience. What he was responding to there is that I was saying, that Americans should be able to buy insurance across state lines in all 50 states, so we have a national market place to give patients choice and the ability to get low-cost catastrophic care, we should be empowering patients, not putting government bureaucrats between patients and their doctors.

And sadly, that has been the approach President Obama and Governor Dean and Nancy Pelosi, is to put Washington in the middle of the doctor's office between you and your doctor. It doesn't work, it's hurting the American people, and that is why the American people are rising up going to, and saying stop this train wreck. Let's get jobs back.

HANNITY: All right, Senator. I support the effort. I hope more Republicans join on. Appreciate it, thank you for being with us.

CRUZ: Thank you, Sean.

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