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Cruz Aims To Take On Obama If GOP Wins Senate

11/3/2014

Sen. Ted Cruz spent the final weekend of the midterms on the far edge of the country trying to help fellow Republican Dan Sullivan win a race the GOP is counting on in its effort to retake the Senate.

It’s a team-player role the tea party firebrand from Texas has filled a handful of times this fall — but one he plans to abandon if Republicans win control of both congressional chambers.

In an interview at the Hotel Captain Cook here between campaign stops for Sullivan, Cruz made it clear he would push hard for a Republican-led Senate to be as conservative and confron­tational as the Republican-led House.

Piggybacking on what House leaders have done, Cruz said the first order of business should be a series of hearings on President Obama, “looking at the abuse of power, the executive abuse, the regulatory abuse, the lawlessness that sadly has pervaded this administration.”

Cruz also would like the Senate to be as aggressive in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act as the House, which has voted more than 50 times to get rid of the law.

Republicans should “pursue every means possible to repeal Obamacare,” Cruz said, including forcing a vote through parliamentary procedures that would get around a possible filibuster by Democrats. If that leads to a veto by Obama, Cruz said, Republicans should then vote on provisions of the health law “one at a time.”

And when asked whether he would back Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky for Republican leader, Cruz would not pledge his support.

Two weeks ago, Cruz wrote an opinion piece in USA Today laying out 10 conservative priorities he thinks Republicans should pursue, including moving toward a flat tax and drawing a hard line on illegal immigrants. In the interview here, Cruz reiterated some of those points, such as approving the Keystone XL pipeline.

McConnell has mostly been coy about what he would like to accomplish other than adding amendments to curb federal regulations to spending bills as a means of putting pressure on the president.

“It’s never a good idea to tell the other side what the first play is going to be,” McConnell said at an event last month.

Cruz is not interested in adding amendments that may put indirect pressure on Obama. He favors direct political combat. That way, either the president gives in, or, Cruz said, “you have clear accountability. It becomes transparent to everyone that it is the Democrats blocking meaningful progress.”

Cruz declined to say whether he’s going to run for president, but was dismissive of moderates in his party, particularly those who may challenge him for the 2016 Republican nomination. Of Jeb Bush, for instance, Cruz said he likes and respects him, “but I think we have seen election after election that when Republicans fail to draw a clear distinction with the Democrats, when we run to the mushy middle, we lose.”

“At some point,” Cruz continued, “after Gerald Ford and Bob Dole and John McCain and Mitt Romney ... we shouldn’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

“One of the reasons Republicans have lost elections recently is that we have failed to engage in a meaningful way on the great issues of the day,” Cruz said. “We’ve played a prevent defense. You don’t win elections that way.”