Sen. Ted Cruz: Republican voters looking for consistent conservatives

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," June 4, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, now we have got a presidential table for 10.  And that's just now, former Texas Governor Rick Perry now part of this growing Republican field.

But I want you to listen to what he said to me earlier in the week about his rival and fellow Texan Ted Cruz.


RICK PERRY R-FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Ted is a brilliant United States senator, and we have got a great working relationship.

I think executive experience is incredibly important. When you look at whether you're going to have a major piece of surgery, you want the most experienced surgeon that you can have.


CAVUTO: And I think that's a way of telling his friend and fellow Texan Senator Ted Cruz, stay exactly where you are.


CAVUTO: Senator, good to have you, sir.

What did you make of that? I don't know if that was a little nice ribbing or what, but what do you think?

SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm not sure we're going into surgery, but I -- I am certainly glad to welcome my friend Rick Perry into the presidential race.

I think he was a terrific governor of my state of Texas. He is a friend.  And I think his entry into the race will elevate the debate. I'm very glad to have him join us. I think he will do a good job. And I'm glad to welcome him.

CAVUTO: You're a gentleman, but you know what he is saying, that senators are just not the guys to run for president. Governors are. They have a record. Senators really are working in this collegial body, and you're new at it besides. So, no, been there, done that with the likes of Barack Obama.

You say what?

CRUZ: Well, you know, Neil, I think we're going to have a robust debate -- we're having it right now -- about who is best to be the Republican nominee and to beat Hillary Clinton.

I think what Republican primary voters are looking for is trust. They want someone who they know will tell them the truth and do what they said they would do. And I think what I'm hearing from the grassroots -- you know, we're seeing enormous enthusiasm in the grassroots.

We have had over 100,000 people go to, financially support the campaign. And what I'm hearing from the grassroots, the reason we're getting so much support, is that I have tried every day to do what I said I would do and tell the truth. And primary voters are looking for someone who will stand up and fight and defend conservative principles over and over and over again consistently.

That's what we're looking for. I think that's what the whole debate is going to be about.

CAVUTO: You know, you started this dance coming in, and now you have got nine others joining you. Then I wonder if that has in a way lessened your appeal? I mean by that, you made a big impression on a lot of folks. Jack Welch loved your enthusiasm and passion, I assume still does.

I have talked to the likes of Mica Mosbacher, the widow of Bob Mosbacher, the commerce secretary under President Bush Sr. So you won a lot of fans.  But now you're getting lost, at least in the polling sauce. Are you worried?

CRUZ: Well, I will tell you, I have been astonished at the support we have seen.

I think it's exceeded any and all reasonable expectations. We started the campaign. Right after we launched, Heidi and I went on a barnstorming tour of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, had standing-room-only crowds. The local press reported the crowds coming out were much larger and in fact double the size of other candidates in the race, double the size of Jeb Bush's, double the size of Scott Walker's.

CAVUTO: Are they still that way now, Senator?

CRUZ: They are.

Just this weekend, I was in New Hampshire. We had a rally with 600 people.  The next day, we went to Andover, Massachusetts, had 650 people come in bright blue Massachusetts. And just last night, I was in Michigan, and we had again about 600 people come out.

People are hungry for someone who will tell them the truth, and then I think the second component of it, Neil -- it's going to take two things to win this nomination, one, grassroots support. And the energy we're seeing is extraordinary.

But, two, it's going to take money. I think, for anyone to be a serious candidate, he or she is going to need to raise at least $50 million between now and South Carolina. And I think there are only a handful of candidates who have a prayer of doing so. Right now, between our campaign and the super PAC, we have raised over $40 million. We have shattered records.  And it's because...

CAVUTO: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. I'm sorry. You have raised $40 million now?


CRUZ: In the first week of the campaign, the campaign itself raised $4.3 million.

CAVUTO: I remember that.

CRUZ: That was over 51,000 contributions from all 50 states; 95 percent of those contributions were $100 or less.

And just this week, the super PAC that is supporting us -- is we can't coordinate with them, but they announced publicly that they have already raised over $37 million in the bank. And that -- both of those are record- shattering. And I think it's because people want to change the path we're on.  CAVUTO: No, no, that is an impressive financial -- no, no, no, that is an impressive financial haul.

And now I don't know how the others stack up. I know Jeb Bush, we're told, could have upwards of $100 million before he even announces now we're told in a couple of weeks, if that.

CRUZ: Yes.

CAVUTO: A lot of your opponents have $20 million, $30 million.

But there are a lot of you who have a lot more money than you would think, and certainly more than we saw vs. Mitt Romney four years ago.

CRUZ: Well...

CAVUTO: So, I'm beginning to wonder if that means, Senator, we will have a lot of guys who would otherwise if they have bumpy faring in the beginning stay in longer, because they do have the money, they do have support, and thereby push this to be decided at the convention, in other words, we don't have a nominee by the convention.

What do you think?

CRUZ: Well, look, you're right. Jeb Bush is going to shatter every fund- raising record that is ever going to set -- I think he's going to raise way north of $100 million.

Among the donors, he is Mick Jagger and the Beatles rolled into one. But you have got to get actual real live primary votes. And in my experience, grassroots, plus money will beat a whole lot more money just about every day of the week. When you get beyond Jeb Bush, there are only a couple of other candidates who I think have the potential to raise the funds it's going to take to run a nationwide campaign, not a Hail Mary in one or two states, but a nationwide campaign.

That's what we're doing. And that combination of grassroots, plus donor support, small dollar, large dollar, the business community, all coming together, fed up with the corruption in Washington...

CAVUTO: All right.

CRUZ: ... and wanting to get back to basic free market principles and our constitutional liberties.

CAVUTO: All right. A lot of your colleagues, Senator Cruz, think that your other colleague Rand Paul, who is also running for president, overplayed his hand and hurt himself on this battle over the Patriot Act and NSA funding that has been resolved. Do you think he did?

CRUZ: Oh, you know, I'm a big fan of Rand Paul. Rand and I have agreed on a great many issues.

I disagreed with him on this particular issue. I was an original sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, which I think is the right policy solution. The USA Freedom Act does two things. Number one, it ends the federal government's bulk collection of phone metadata. I think it was wrong for the federal government to be seizing your and mine phone metadata in bulk.

The USA Freedom act abolishes that. But, secondly, the USA Freedom Act preserves the tools, national security and law enforcement, to stop acts of terrorism, to seize the communications of specific individuals with connections to radical Islamic terrorism. That's the way it's supposed to work. We have got to do both, protect civil liberties and keep law-abiding Americans safe.

CAVUTO: Well, he says it doesn't do that, Senator. And I'm wondering whether there's been a divide here between -- because a lot of people kind of put you two in that camp. You were in a different camp than he.

And I'm wondering if this is your way of saying that this is the right balance of privacy and security concerns, and Rand Paul doesn't get it.

CRUZ: You know, Neil, when it comes to legislating and solving problems, I was proud to join with my very good friend, Senator Mike Lee, in crafting this bipartisan legislation.

The USA Freedom Act...

CAVUTO: Right.

CRUZ: ... which Mike Lee and I fought for, passed overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

And as a result of that leadership, we're ending the federal government's bulk collection of phone metadata. We're protecting the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, privacy rights and the Bill of Rights. That is exactly what we should be doing. But we're also protecting our national security.

And we have got a responsibility to keep American citizens safe from radical Islamic terrorism. I think it's exactly the right balance. I also think it's where the American people are.

CAVUTO: Do you share Rand Paul's views that some of the Republicans who have been championing this and tighter restrictions for making sure we protect our security have -- are the same reactionaries who brought us to this brink, in other words, brought us to these wars and everything else?

CRUZ: Oh, look, I recognize that there has been a heated war of words between some Republicans and other Republicans.

And I would note that there are a lot of media outlets who there is nothing they love more than Republican-on-Republican violence. I don't intend to engage in that game. I'm a big fan of Rand Paul's. We agree on a lot of issues. I expect we will agree on a lot of issues going forward.

But on this one, the right balance was the bipartisan legislation that ended the bulk collection of phone metadata and that protects our national security at the same time.

CAVUTO: All right.

You know, Senator, as you're speaking, Hillary Clinton is in Texas today.  She was in Texas. She's in Washington now, but she has been getting a lot of financial interest and the like. She too has a lot of money. Her negatives are driving up, though, but yet, even now, with all of that, in poll after poll after poll, with each and every one of the Republican candidates, she is still leading.

What do you make of that?

CRUZ: Oh, look, I think early polls right now don't make a whole lot of difference.

She has got universal name I.D., and all the Democrats are unified behind us. We have a robust, a diverse field. I'm thrilled with the field, all of the senators, the governors, young dynamic candidates. I think that's a reflection of diversity. It's a reflection people are hungry for a change.

You know, I will note, it's curious that she is going to Texas. I guess there's some trial lawyers there, but last I checked, there aren't any foreign nations in Texas to write her million-dollar checks to the campaign or to give her husband speaking fees. And that is...

CAVUTO: I think they call that a zinger, Senator.


CAVUTO: But I do want to get back to this idea that -- to obviously get a chance to meet her, assuming she is the nominee -- and other people are saying, you know, given these latest Democratic entrants, that's not such a sure thing -- but this idea that, on economic matters, how will a Ted Cruz differentiate himself from this battle back and forth in the party on what to do with Social Security?

I want you to see, if you don't mind, sir, listening to a clip of a chat I had with Mike Huckabee, who doesn't want to touch Social Security. This is from Orlando earlier this week.



If all the other Republicans candidates for president want to stand on one side of the stage and say that they're going to cut people's Social Security and cut their Medicare benefits after they have paid in for 50 years of work, and I'm the only one on the other side saying I won't do that, I'm happy to be in that very short line.

CAVUTO: Yes, but that means it's politically prudent.

HUCKABEE: No, it means that I believe that the government ought to honor its promises to people.


CAVUTO: All right, as you know, sir, Chris Christie has said just the opposite, we have got to means-test Social Security, raise the retirement age, we have to be honest to the American people they can't keep going in this direction. And then along you have Governor Huckabee says, don't touch it, it's fine.

What do you say?

CRUZ: Oh, look, I like Governor Huckabee.

I think it's possible to do both. I think the responsible thing is to step in and preserve and reform Social Security and Medicare. I think what politicians in Washington are doing right now, allowing it to careen towards insolvency, is fundamentally irresponsible. And how do we do it?

CAVUTO: So, what does that mean? Does that mean that you would eventually raise the retirement age? Would you means-test it? What?

CRUZ: Well, it means you do both.

For seniors and for those who are near retirement, you make no changes whatsoever. I think Governor Huckabee is exactly right in that regard, that we need honor the commitments that have been made to our seniors who have depended on them and ordered their financial affairs.

CAVUTO: Well, what do you mean by close to retirement, Senator, those who are five, 10 years away? What?

CRUZ: Those within a few years.

And let me contrast it, Neil, to people my age. I'm 44. It's hard to find someone my generation who believes Social Security will be there for them.  And I think that gives us an opportunity for commonsense reforms.

The reforms I would like to see -- and I'm campaigning on fundamental reform to preserve entitlements. We ought to gradually increase the retirement age. We ought to change the rate of increase in benefits so that it matches inflation, rather than exceeding inflation, both of those for younger workers, people my age.

And third -- and this is critical -- we ought to allow younger workers to keep a portion of their tax payments in a personal account that they own, that they control, that can grow at market rates, and that they can pass on to their kids and grandkids. That's the kind of bipartisan leadership we need.

And it's what, if I'm elected in November 2016, I hope to lead the effort to make it happen and preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for decades going forward.

CAVUTO: You know, running for president, as you know, Senator, is -- it involves substance, what you know, and the issues, how comfortable you are with them. It also involves a lot of esoteric features, some would even say cosmetic features.

Jack Welch, when I talked to him, who is a big fan of yours, had this criticism. I want you to listen to this.


JACK WELCH, FORMER CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL ELECTRIC: This country needs more truth and trust. Ted Cruz says what he is going to do, and he does it. And he is as smart as a whip and he's a good bet on right now.

And I want Ted Cruz to smile more, because he is hell of a good guy.



CAVUTO: Smile more. What did you think of that?

CRUZ: Oh, I think -- I think it's great advice. I'm a big fan of Jack Welch's. He has been very kind in recognizing we can't keep going with a failed business model, that we have got to do something new.

We have got to energize and bring voters back. And he mentioned people are looking for someone who will do what he said he would do. And I think it's very meaningful. Jack Welch may well be the most respected former CEO in this country. And what he recognizes is, you don't keep pouring money into a business model that fails. You try something different.


CAVUTO: Well, no, no, he is smart, Senator, but he hasn't always made the right decision. He put me on the air, so that doesn't mean he's always hitting it out of the park.

CRUZ: Well, and, for that, we can thank him for his brilliance there.

CAVUTO: There you go.

But let me get your final sense of where this race goes. You have a lot of money. You do have a lot of passion and support. I take none of that away, sir. But I do want to get this notion of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Do you have to win one of those three outright?

CRUZ: Well, listen, if you look historically, since World War II, no one has ever won the nomination without winning at least one of those first three. That has certainly been history.

I think it's an interesting challenge for a number of other of these candidates. You look at -- the media describes, for example, Jeb Bush frequently as the front-runner. It becomes an interesting question when you ask, which of those states does he win?

I will tell you what we intend to do. I'm competing vigorously in all three of those early states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

CAVUTO: What about Florida? Are you competing in that state, even though it's a Rubio-Bush mano a mano deal?

CRUZ: Oh, sure.

Look, we're competing nationwide. We're competing in Nevada. Yesterday, I was in Michigan. Tonight, I'm flying to North Carolina. We are competing.  I was in Massachusetts. We are competing nationwide. We're putting together a team on the ground, a grassroots team nationwide.

And we're raising money in all 50 states. Over 100,000 people have gone to, supported the campaign.

CAVUTO: All right.

CRUZ: That's really the strength of it, is courageous conservatives saying what we're doing isn't working.

CAVUTO: All right.

It's always a pleasure, Senator. I see you're smiling a lot more, so maybe Jack Welch had some magic.


CAVUTO: Seriously, very good having you, Senator Ted Cruz in Washington.

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