OTR Interviews

Was Cruz's marathon speech a waste of time - or a turning point?

Did the controversial senator wage a futile battle? Or did he open Americans' eyes to Obamacare's pitfalls and become the GOP's new de facto leader?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 25, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "FOX News Alert." Another late night in the United States Senate just moments ago, and in a surprising move, the Senate voting to put the CR, the continuing resolution, on the fast track. That means a final Senate vote could come as early as Friday.

Now, the Senate's speeding up the CR process despite Senator Ted Cruz's best effort to slow it down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: I intend to speak in support of defunding ObamaCare until I am no longer able to stand.

I actually agreed with that notion, and it's a tragic notion, that there are two Americas. There are two Americas, A, between the ruling class in Washington and everyone else.

SEN. RAND PAUL,R-KY.: The president doesn't want to compromise! What we're talking about is we don't want to spend money on something that's not going to work and hurt the people, precisely the people it was intended to help!

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: We're not fighting against ObamaCare. We are fighting for these people!

CRUZ: I want to take the opportunity to read two bedtime stories to my girls.

Do you like green eggs and ham? I do not like them, Sam I am.

I have stated before I think it ought to be expanded so that every member of Congress, all congressional staff, the president, the political appointees and every federal employee should be subject to ObamaCare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's something called a Panama hat. Can you tell me what part of the world the Panama hat comes from?

CRUZ: It could possibly be Panama. You might think, if you call it a Panama hat, that it would make sense that it'd be Panama. But no, think again, Ecuador.

What Americans care about is they want jobs back. They want economic growth back. They want to get back to work. They want their health care not to be taken away because of ObamaCare!

This is the first time I've seen when Republican leadership is actively whipping the Republican conference to support Harry Reid and give him the power to enact his agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How're you doing?

CRUZ: I thank the senator from Kansas. And I will tell you, I am doing fabulous. I am encouraged, I am inspired, I'm motivated by the American people.

PAUL: I was a physician in practice 20 years. I saw it every day. Number one complaint I got, health insurance costs too much. So what did ObamaCare do for health insurance costs? It drove them up.

CRUZ: I wondered if at some point, we were going to see a tall gentleman in a mechanical breathing apparatus come forward and say in a deep voice, "Mike Lee, I am your father."

There is still at least strength in my legs to stand a little longer.

The only path if we're going to oppose ObamaCare is to stand together and oppose cloture. And I would ask for my friends in the Democratic aisle to listen to...

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, D-VT.: The hour -- the hour of noon has arrived. Pursuant to the order of...

(APPLAUSE)

LEAHY: ... the Senate will be...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl Rove joins us. Good evening, Karl.

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, I want to talk about Senator Cruz in just a moment. But first I want to talk about the government shutting down. What are the odds -- looking at it tonight, as you look at it, what are the odds that the government will be shutting down?

ROVE: You know, there may be a shutdown for a few days, but I think the most likely outcome is, is since they're speeding up this process in the Senate, which I'm a little bit surprised at, that means they're going to ping their bill over to the House.

The House Republicans are going to rewrite that bill, send it back to the Senate. You know, my sense is that it's going to include things like a delay of ObamaCare or subject all of the members of Congress and their staffs to ObamaCare, just like the rest of the American people.

And it may be that it's a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government open for another week or two to allow for more discussion. But I think there's going to be an attempt to keep this shutdown either short or to postpone it a little bit and give the House Republicans a chance to fashion a bill that'll -- that'll jam at least some parts of ObamaCare, if not defund it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, someone -- doesn't someone have to sort of call uncle? I mean, it's going to go over from the Senate to the House, minus that defunding provision. That's what we predict. And then you say they're going to ping it back to the Senate. And when it goes back the Senate, the House Republicans will put something into it that will delay ObamaCare, maybe for a year or something else, which the Senate is not going to like or approve of. So they're going to want to do something to sort of ping it back. Somebody's got to cry uncle at some point.

ROVE: Yes. Well, first of all, either -- there are one of two things they could do. They could send back a short-term CR that keeps the government open for another week or two to give them more time, or they could send back a CR that includes some provisions, like putting all of the members of Congress under -- under the -- under "Obama care" and/or delaying the individual mandate for a year.

Nearly -- several dozen Democrats in the House voted for the latter. And my suspicion is most members of Congress are going to be hard pressed not to say, We ought to be under ObamaCare like everybody else.

So my sense is that they can pass it through the House on a bipartisan basis. And in the Senate, I think they can probably pick up five, six, seven, eight Democrats who either on principle believe that what's good for the goose, corporate America, ought to be good for the gander, individual Americans, and/or red state Democrats who say, I'm going to be in trouble in my state if I'm seen on the wrong side of this issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, there's one thing that I just -- I have to point out for the viewers, in that the -- you know, if we do go into a shutdown because there isn't enough time to do a continuing resolution, I want to remind the viewers that September 30th, the end of the fiscal year, comes after the 29th every single year. And if the leaders had not taken a five-week vacation and had their members in the House and the Senate beginning in April, that we wouldn't be in this particular position.

So you know, it's only because they didn't do their homework. They knew this was coming and they didn't do it. And now they're in this mad scramble with the consequences of a possible shutdown.

ROVE: Yes. Well, you bet. Remember, the last time we passed a full budget for the fiscal year in advance of the fiscal year was in the calendar year of 2007 for FY-08. The Congress passed a budget for half the fiscal year in 2008 for FY-09. But since then, we've been running the government on a series of continuing resolutions with busted deadlines left and right.

Congress -- at least this year, the House passed a budget resolution. The Senate finally passed a budget resolution. It has not in recent years. And the House, I think, has passed most of the 12 appropriations bills and sent them over to the Senate, where they're largely languishing. None of the appropriations bills have been passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president.

So that means that on October 1, if there is a shutdown, no federal employee will be paid, unlike, say, in 1995, when 7 of the 13 appropriations bills -- they then had 13 -- had been passed, including the two for the military. So actually, most of the people who worked in the government were -- already had funding in place for the entire fiscal year in -- excuse me, in 1995 for the 21-day shutdown we had then. This time around, there'll be -- there'll be no -- no funding in place for anybody.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you know, and I just -- you know, I just think it's so absolutely outrageous. If I didn't do my work, I wouldn't be here. But the fact that they knew that September 30th was going to roll around and they took that vacation, to me -- but anyway, let me ask you another issue. Right after Senator Cruz ended his, for lack of a better description, his talk-a-thon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid immediately taking to the floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: With all due respect, I'm not sure we learned anything new. I do believe that what we have here, with the so-called Tea Party, is a new effort to strike government however they can. It's, as I've said before, the new anarchy. If anyone has any doubt that there are Republicans rooting for a shutdown, they should just turn on the television. For lack of a better way of describing this, it has been a big waste of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Karl, before I ask you the question, waste of time, he talks about anarchy. You know, anarchy is when you get in the way and you try to tear something down. This man, the Senate majority leader, has done everything he could possibly do. He's known about this date that was coming up, and he's done nothing to move it forward. So it's, like -- talk about anarchy, I mean, when he doesn't -- when has the job and the responsibility and he simply doesn't do it, you know, to call others anarchists -- but whatever. Your thought.

ROVE: Well, you're absolutely right. Remember, Harry Reid wants to jam the House Republicans. He was, frankly, grateful to see Ted Cruz do the talk-a-thon because it delayed things a few more hours.

He would like to give the House Republicans as little time as possible before the September 30th deadline in order to blame them. So he's been slow-playing this all the way along.

Now, look, a waste of time -- he wanted people to waste time, but it actually didn't waste that much time because the Senate rules are such that when he made his motion on Monday, it required that the bill lay out until Wednesday. And so today, Tuesday, was going to be devoted not to consideration of the House resolution, the House measure on the ObamaCare law, but instead -- and the continuing resolution, but instead, to other Senate business.

So you know, he was a little misleading. Harry Reid, frankly, I thought he said, you know, he didn't learn anything new. I believe that. There's very little new that Harry Reid can learn. I mean, he's -- he's got a closed mind on this issue and he doesn't care about it, even when the culinary union, one of the most powerful political players on the Democratic side in Nevada and Las Vegas in particularly, is going nuts as they figure out how ObamaCare is going to adversely affect them.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I don't know where he gets the chutzpah to say that it is a waste of time. This is the leader of the United States Senate. He knew September 30th was going to roll around. He knew this was going to be a problem. And as I said before -- I'm going to sound like a broken record -- he took a five-week vacation!

ROVE: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: He took off! He knew it. And the -- and the very reason they're doing a continuing resolution is because they didn't do their work on the budget, to do a budget! So talk about waste of time, you're looking at him right there on the screen! So he has a hell of a lot of nerve to say that anybody else does!

ROVE: Right. And remember what the goal of the Senate Democrats was. They have a budget that spends $1,058,000,000 in discretionary spending this coming fiscal year. That's nearly $100 billion more than the Senate Democrats, the House Republicans and the Democratic president agreed to in their budget agreement in July of 2011.

And Harry Reid now, two years after that budget agreement, which -- which reduces the future growth rate of federal spending -- what he wants to do is blow it up and add a lot more money back into the mix. In fact, it would add roughly $5 trillion in spending over the next decade, offset by $1 trillion in new tax revenues, and -- but with $4 trillion added to the deficit above and beyond what is already projected to be added to the deficit. That's Harry Reid's idea of progress.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, whether you're for Senator Cruz or not, agree with him or not, you got to give him credit for a couple of things. Number one is he kept his promise. He said he was going to do that. He did it. That's what he told his constituents.

Number two is that he did it within the rules of the Senate. He didn't make up any new rules. He did exactly, precisely what the rules were. And he put the spotlight on the issue. And then he comes out of this, and what's the first thing that happens, instead of Harry Reid acting like a leader and saying something like, Well, Senator Cruz, I disagree with you completely on the issues, but I got to hand it to you, you know -- you know, you've exercised, you know, your right on the Senate floor as a U.S. senator, sort of a graciousness as a leader, he gets petty!

And he insults him and says it's a waste of time. That's what I don't get, is, like -- I mean, he's like -- he's like that bruising boxer! I mean, it's, like -- and I don't know why he doesn't want to be a leader! Why doesn't he want to lead and set an example?

ROVE: Well, you're absolutely right. He could have been gracious. This is a problem that both he and the president have. He could have been very gracious.

I got to go beyond what you said about Senator Cruz. I obviously don't agree with the strategy, that's clear, of trying to defund as opposed to trying to delay. I think the risk of a shutdown is going to be adverse for Republicans.

But that was an extraordinary performance. I mean, he was on his feet for almost 24 hours. He was cogent. He was thoughtful. He was funny. He was engaging. He was personal. He was personable. He did himself a lot of good, not inside, necessarily, the United States Senate. As he himself admitted during his talk, he's probably irritated all of his colleagues. But if you're focused on 2016, as he is, he has given himself a big head start. I don't want to call him the front runner, but he is -- he has clearly done himself a lot of good with the goal of 2016 in mind.

And he did, I thought, an extraordinary job. Can you imagine, at the end of nearly 24 hours on your feet, being as cogent and as focused and as effective as he was in laying out the case?

You know, my only criticism was I wish he'd read a little bit less Ayn Rand and more -- and more of the Republican proposals about fixing health care. This was a teaching moment. He had the interest of the American people.

And this was a chance also to lay out not simply what we're against -- he did a superb job of that -- but also what we're for as conservatives and Republicans in making health care portable, giving the tax advantage to the individual as well as the company, interstate sales of insurance to increase competition, allowing small businesses to pool risk, medical liability reform, transparency in pricing, and so forth.

There are lots of things that Republicans have been talking about. The House Republicans this week are introducing a package. Dr. Roe of Tennessee and Steve Scalise, the head of the Republican Study Committee, Marsha Blackburn has introduced a proposal which I think is going to be very interesting and we're likely to see, hear more about it in the -- in the days immediately ahead.

But I thought that was an extraordinary performance and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well...

ROVE: ... for a man that has an ambition for 2016, he did himself a lot of good.