Twenty-four hours after announcing his campaign for President of the United States, Senator Ted Cruz joined Glenn on radio. During the interview, the two discussed the grassroots support that will be key to Ted's campaign, the theories that he isn't a natural born citizen, and his dark horse run for U.S. Senator in 2012.
GLENN: How are you, Ted?
TED: I'm doing great. Great to be with you.
GLENN: Good to have you here. What is it like to announce you're running for president of the United States? What is that day like?
TED: Well, I have to say, yesterday was electric. I mean, the energy and passion. We had 12,000 college kids - they were on fire. They were ready to stand up and lead a movement of courageous conservatives to turn the country around. And it was breathtaking. It was inspiring. Seeing their passion really gives me incredible strength. The very first voice I spoke to after the announcement speech was you when I was handed the phone to go on-air with you yesterday.
PAT: That's great.
GLENN: I want to tell you -- and I say this for you, not for us. This works out horribly for us. But, you know, being our friend may not be the best thing for you.
TED: You know what, I'm very proud to dance with who brought me. And we'll stand together happily.
PAT: Everyone wants to know how they can help you. Everyone wants to roll up their sleeves and get to work for you.
GLENN: Before you answer this, I just want to say, that people like James Carville, they are terrified of you.
PAT: Oh, my gosh.
GLENN: They are warning the Democrats, don't dismiss this guy.
GLENN: Weren't you world champion debate guy, something like that? I think that was the actual title.
TED: In college, I wasn't exactly one of the cool kids.
PAT: Didn't exactly play football.
TED: The star quarterback and then the star debater. There's a little bit of a difference.
GLENN: The smart people in the Democratic party, everybody else is blowing you off, and I'm telling you, between, what you've done and what I know of the people who actually believe in the Constitution, if you play your cards right, you're going to have the biggest grassroots campaign probably next to Obama, if not surpassing Obama. The passion will be there in spades.
TED: Well, and that is at the heart of our campaign. It is a grassroots movement from the people. You mentioned the smart Democrats. Look, the smart Democrats understand that the American people are fundamentally center right. And what worries them is a leader who understands that as well and will speak for the shared common sense conservative values we have across this country. So many Republican leaders have bought the media spin that the American people have abandoned our values. And that's simply not true.
I'll give you an example. Last week I was on your show. And on the show, we asked people to text in the word "Constitution" to the number 33733. Do you know how many people texted in?
GLENN: I do.
PAT: That's great.
TED: It was incredible. That was ten minutes on your show. Over 26,000 people texted in. I'll tell you, the 24 hours since we launched the campaign, the number of people who have gone to our website, TedCruz.org, and contributed to the campaign has been astonishing. The website blew up yesterday. And all of the political elites in Washington and New York are saying there's no way a real conservative can compete with the establishment choice because you won't have the money that comes from the lobbyists.
Look, our strength is the grassroots. And we have been saying since the moment we announced, people over and over and over again coming to TedCruz.org. If they can, they max out. But even if they can't, they give $10, or $25, or $50. And that will fuel our effort to build a grassroots army of courageous conservatives all over this country.
GLENN: So, Ted, let me ask you this. This is a hard question. I like Rand Paul. I like Scott Walker. I'd like to see those guys advance. There are progressives in the Republican, i.e. Jeb Bush, that just need to be stopped or we'll end up with Jeb Bush. Is it at all part of your strategy or will you consider not going after Rand and Scott Walker, Rand in particular, to keep the guys who love the Constitution in play so folks your energy on the people who are the progressives?
TED: I very much like and respect Rand Paul. I like and respect Scott Walker. They're both good guys.
My focus is not going to be going after anybody. My focus will be making the affirmative case that, number one, what I think primary voters are looking for is someone who is a consistent conservative who says the same thing yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and who will stand up and do what he said he would do. And I think to win, the only way we'll win is if you have a full spectrum conservative who has a proven record standing for principle, whether it's on Obamacare; whether it is stopping the debt ceiling; whether it is stopping President Obama's executive amnesty; whether it's defending the first amendment, free speech, religious liberty; defending the second amendment; defending our privacy; defending the tenth amendment and stopping Common Core; standing with the nation of Israel; standing up to Iran and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
And I'll tell you, as I look at the potential field, I see a lot of people who I like and respect who are friends of mine. If you look at those issues that I've just listed off and you ask of all of the senators and governors looking at this field -- looking at this race, how many of them have actually stood up and led and engaged meaningfully on the great issues today?
PAT: Only you.
GLENN: Only you. That's why we're such big supporters. So let me take you here. Yesterday there was pushback on education. You were talking about the right to education, et cetera, et cetera. Ronald Reagan came out and he wanted to defund and shut down the Department of Education. Will you go that far?
TED: Absolutely. Of course, we should shut down the Department of Education. It has been driving federal mandates and intruding into the critical role of education. I think education is too important to be dictated by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. It should at the state level or even better at the local level where we as parents can have direct influence and control over what's being taught to our kids.
GLENN: This is the thing that attracts me to Libertarianism. I can be as conservative as I want and my neighbor could be Ben & Jerry the ice cream guys, and we can get along as long as neither of us are trying to control the other's lives. That's where Washington needs to be stopped. Because we can get along if I'm not trying to tell you what church to go to and how to live your life and you're not telling me what education I have to have or how I must tolerate X, Y, or Z.
TED: Well, and that's one of the reasons you and I see eye to eye on so many issues. I have described myself - I am a conservative, but with strong Libertarian leanings. And I think the path to victory is reassembling the old Reagan coalition. Bringing together conservatives and Libertarians and evangelicals and Reagan Democrats and Republican women and young people and Hispanics. And that's one of the things we saw so powerfully in Texas when I ran for Senate in 2012. You know, I think it was the case that in 2012, that I was the only candidate in the country who was endorsed by both Ron Paul and Rick Santorum.
And you talk about two political leaders who don't generally see eye to eye on much, and their supporters often have sharp disagreements. And yet we had both Ron Paul and Rand Paul came, did an enormous rally with me in the state capitol. We had thousands of young people out in the hot sun. And Rick Santorum came to Dallas. We had another rally with thousands of evangelicals come together. If we're going to win, we have to appeal to the shared values that bring together courageous conservatives across this country. I think that's the path to victory
PAT: Sounds really good.
GLENN: I remember standing in Rick Perry's office, and I had just gotten here. And it was the week before your election. And he said to me, 'you're backing the wrong guy.' And I said, 'what?' And he said, 'Ted Cruz, you're backing the wrong guy.' And I said, 'governor, I don't think so.' And he said, 'you don't know Texas politics.' And I said, 'I don't think you know the American people on this. And I'm new to Texas, so maybe you're right. But I think you'll be surprised by this.'"
How much of that surprise, you were not supposed to win. You were way outspent. You were way outgunned and yet you won. How much did your win here in Texas play a role in your decision to run for president?
TED: It was a very significant factor. It demonstrated that the overwhelming power of the grassroots, and that's what a lot of the Washington political establishment don't understand. In Texas, when we launched the campaign, beginning of 2011, when we started, I was literally at 2 percent in the polls. As I've often joked, the margin of error was 3 percent.
And, Glenn, you'll appreciate this. When I went home to Heidi and said, 'sweetheart, we're at 2 percent.
And he said, 'technically couldn't you be at negative one?'"
PAT: This is all really promising, if only you weren't Canadian. Oh, darn it. Can you believe that's come up already? You have the View crew wanting to see your birth certificate. Whoopi Goldberg was accusing you of harping on the birth certificate with Obama. Which I never saw you do. Ever.
GLENN: Did you ever do that?
Look, I think you can tell a lot about a person by who comes out shooting at them. I thought it was very interesting that The New York Times said yesterday, Cruz cannot possibly be the candidate because the Washington political elites hate him. And my immediate reaction was, 'gosh, do I have to declare that to the FEC as a contribution.' Because I can't summarize what we're trying tolerance better than that. If you want a candidate embraced by the Washington political elites, I ain't your guy. But look, if you want someone who will actually stand with working men and women who want to believe again in the miracle of America, want to bring power back to the people and out of Washington, then that is exactly what we're trying to do in this campaign.
STU: Senator, when President Obama announced his run in 2007, there were a lot of conservatives who said this is a first term senator who has been in office for three years, he doesn't have the experience to be president. A lot of people made that argument on the conservative side. They'll make it against you. What's your answer?
TED: I think two things. Number one, there's a real difference in my tenure in the Senate and Obama's tenure in the Senate. In his time in the Senate, he was a back bencher who did not engage in a lot of issues of consequence.
In the time I've been in there on issue after issue, I've been leading the fight to stop Obamacare, to stop amnesty to stop the debt that is crushing our kids and grandkids. To defend our constitutionally rights. But number two, unlike Barack Obama, I wasn't a community organizer before I came. I spent five and a half years as a solicitor general of Texas, representing Texas in front of the Supreme Court. And we won some of the biggest victories in the country defending conservative principles whether it was the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance or standing up to the world court of the United Nations and defending US sovereignty and winning.
GLENN: Senator, I hate to cut you off. It's TedCruz.org. TedCruz.org. Thank you very much.