Glenn Questions Ted Cruz on What It Means to 'Vote Your Conscience'

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) defended his decision to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election on The Glenn Beck Program Monday. Many in Glenn's audience supported and campaigned for Senator Cruz during the primary election, and Glenn felt it important for his audience to hear the senator's reasoning.

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In a considerably heated interview, Glenn grilled Cruz to understand what pivot point led to the senator's decision, announced Friday on his Facebook page.

"I just want to make sure I understand," Glenn said. "So, a man who has principles, who says, There are lines I will not cross, it's still a binary choice? So, a man who you cannot come on and say, Yes, Glenn, he is fit to be president of the United States, I still am encouraged by you to abandon my principles and vote because it's a binary choice?"

Cruz answered deliberately.

"You are encouraged by me to do what you believe is right and honorable and principled," Cruz said. "And from my perspective, as I look at the issues, Hillary Clinton is telling us she will do enormous damage to the country."

Read below or listen to the full segment for answers to these pointed questions:

• What was the pivot point that changed Senator Cruz's mind?

• Will Senator Cruz be voting his conscience with Trump?

• Did the senator reframe his speech from Cleveland?

• Is this election really a binary choice?

• Did Senator Cruz hang Mike Lee out to dry?

• Did Senator Cruz "rent" his email list to Donald Trump?

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Yes. Well, waiting for the politician hotline to ring right now. On the other end, Senator Ted Cruz, who agreed on Friday to come on the show and talk to you and tell you his thoughts.

PAT: What if there's a super important Senate vote going on like this minute?

GLENN: Here he is. There he is. We get to him right now. Okay. Good.

(music)

GLENN: Welcome to the program, Senator Ted Cruz.

TED: Glenn, it's good to be with you.

GLENN: Senator, you -- you said you made this decision for two reasons: First, you promised to support the Republican nominee, and you intend to keep your word. And second, by any measure, Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable. I want to get into both of those with you, but I want to start with the last thing that you said.

TED: Sure.

GLENN: You said, "If you don't want to see Hillary Clinton presidency, I encourage you to vote for Donald Trump." You are voting for him. And you encourage others to vote for him.

In your very eloquent, almost Charles Sumner speech at the convention, you said, "Vote for conscience." So am I supposed to now vote for him, or am I supposed to vote for my conscience?

TED: Well, Glenn, what I said in Cleveland and what I would say today is the same thing: You should follow your conscience. And I believe what I laid out in Cleveland was, "Don't stay home. Come out and vote. Vote your conscience and vote for candidates you trust to defend freedom and the Constitution." And what I was trying to do at Cleveland was lay out a path to uniting Republicans and lay out a path to winning.

And in particular, I was saying to the Trump campaign, "This is how you earn my vote and I believe how you earn the vote of other conservatives: You defend freedom and defend the Constitution. This is about principles and ideas." That's the test I'm applying. What I do know is that Hillary Clinton fails that test profoundly. And I said that at Cleveland, and I think it is even more clear today.

GLENN: Yeah, we've known that. We've known that for 25 years.

TED: Yes.

GLENN: And Hillary Clinton has done nothing to change your mind or mine that she is fit to be president of the United States.

However, this weekend, you wouldn't answer the question if Donald Trump is fit to be president of the United States.

TED: What I said is this is a binary choice. I wish it were not a binary choice. As you know, I tried very, very hard -- as did you -- to prevent it from being a binary choice from Hillary and Donald Trump. And I think it is fair to say there was no other Republican candidate who left more on the field and did more to stop Donald from being the nominee than I did. But the voters made a different decision. And you have to respect the democratic process, even if you may not be terribly happy with the outcome.

And given the binary choice on any measure --

GLENN: I just want to make sure I understand. So a man who has principles, who says, "I will -- there are lines I will not cross." It's still a binary choice. So a man who you cannot come on and say, "Yes, Glenn, he is fit to be president of the United States," I still am encouraged by you to abandon my principles and vote because it's a binary choice?

TED: You are encouraged by me to do what you believe is right and honorable and principled. And from my perspective, as I look at the issues, Hillary Clinton is telling us she will do enormous damage to the country.

Let's take the issue of the Supreme Court, which, as you know, is an issue that matters deeply to me. I know it matters deeply to you and deeply to many of your listeners.

Almost every one of our constitutional rights hangs in the balance. We have a narrowly divided court, with Justice Scalia's passing. Just about every right we cherish is at risk of being lost, whether it is the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And in the Heller case, which I helped win, that was a 5-4 victory that upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms.

The next president, probably in January, will nominate a justice that will either uphold the individual right to keep and bear arms or attempt to revoke it forever.

GLENN: So you and I agree on this 100 percent.

TED: Yep.

GLENN: But this is information that you had in Cleveland. And hang on just a second. Before you respond.

TED: Sure.

GLENN: You had all of this information. You had this information the day you dropped out of the race and said that Donald Trump is a sociopathic liar. So you had all this information. Have you spent an enormous amount of time with Donald Trump? Do you have new information that has made you say, "Oh, my gosh, he's now not a sociopathic liar. He is not the guy that I -- I -- I very eloquently spelled out for over a year and now suddenly there's a reason to believe him."

TED: Well, let me say a couple of things in response, Glenn.

First of all, I have had many significant disagreements with Donald Trump. And as you noted, I have not been shy to articulate those at considerable length.

I don't intend to do so at this point. The primary is over. We are in a general election with a -- with a binary choice.

GLENN: I'm asking you for new information.

TED: And I don't think it's beneficial for me to continue laying out those concerns. I have laid them out a great length --

GLENN: No, I'm asking you for new information.

TED: You're in a different role than I am. You have -- you can share your concerns. I have shared them in the past. I don't intend to repeat them.

STU: But that's different.

GLENN: That's different. I'm asking you for new information. You knew all the things that you are saying today. The time to do that would have been the day that you pulled out or the day that you -- the day that you gave the speech so eloquently.

PAT: Why now?

GLENN: Why now? What's new?

TED: Well, a number of things have changed. I'd say the most significant thing that changed was on Friday, the day that I announced that I would vote for Donald Trump, the Trump campaign put out a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, and I think to me, critically committed that the only nominees he would consider for the court were on that list.

Now, that was a major shift. In the past, he had put out a list of 11 potential nominees, and the campaign's language had been, "These are among the people who would be considered." On Friday, the campaign expanded that list to 21. It's a very strong list. They put Senator Mike Lee, who would make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice. They put him at the top of that list.

GLENN: Yeah, after not speaking to him.

TED: And for the first time ever, the campaign committed, those were the only names that would be considered.

Now, I'll tell you, Glenn, that was not an accident, that that occurred. When several weeks ago, when I sat down with Mike Pence in Washington, Mike asked me, "What would it take to get you on board?" And for months, I had been telling Donald, I had been telling the campaign, "My greatest concern was protecting the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law."

I told Donald that before the convention. I said that over and over and over again. And when we talked about, "Well, what could the campaign do to give any degree of reassurance on the Constitution and the rule of law," we discussed the Supreme Court as being one of the great checks protecting the Constitution and the rule of law. And the Trump campaign committing to nominate from that list was an important change that gave me significant reassurance and helped me get to the point of saying yes.

PAT: Hmm.

STU: So, A, I have a million questions on that. Why do you believe him, number one?

Number two, you have Mike Lee, who I agree would be a great Supreme Court justice, but also is on the list and still not endorsing. And did you tell Lee in advance? Because there's lots of reports saying that you basically hung him out to dry after he's been siding with you this entire time.

(chuckling)

TED: Well, look, on the latter point, Mike and I have had a great many conversations. And the idea that -- I would love to see Mike Lee on the Supreme Court, as I said many times on the campaign trail. I joked more than once with Mike there, and indeed, Glenn, with you there, about how good I thought Mike would look in a black robe. So I will make no secret and no apologies of my view that Mike Lee would make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice.

PAT: No question.

GLENN: We've talked about that extensively, you're exactly right.

But I believe Stu's exact question was, "Did you hang him out to dry?" He was not aware -- many reports are that he was not aware that he was a candidate or you were going to make this decision on Friday.

TED: I'm not going to get into the details of our private conversations, but let me just say, that's not accurate. But I don't want to get into the details of our private conversations.

STU: Okay. So why do you believe Trump on this list? Because, I mean, you've called -- I mean, you said, you know, he was going to send us into the abyss. You called him, correctly, a pathological liar. Why would you believe that he put it down on a piece of paper, that he wouldn't back off on it? I mean, he's backing off on -- he backed off of the birther thing. It was the only thing we knew about the guy.

TED: What I laid out -- and let me encourage your listeners. You know, I mean, I wrote a long op-ed that we posted on Facebook. We sent out on email.

If you haven't read it, I'd encourage you to read it. Because it was something that I wrote from the heart. This was a decision that I agonized about.

But starting on the Supreme Court, what I believe to a certainty is Hillary Clinton, if she were president would appoint left-wing ideologues to the Court. If that happens -- the next president is going to get one, two, three -- maybe even four Supreme Court justices. If that happens, the Second Amendment is gone. Religious liberty is gone. Free speech is gone. Federalism is gone. US sovereignty will be given away. I believe that to 100 percent certainty.

Now, with respect to the justices Donald Trump would nominate, I know that he is publicly committing to nominate from a list that is very strong. And if he were to nominate from that list, it would be a major step towards protecting our rights. I hope that he would follow through on that commitment. One never knows if one will. But the fact that he is publicly promising, "I will nominate from these 21," I think creates a dynamic where, compared to Hillary, who is promising to put left-wing ideologues, that's a clear choice.

PAT: Ted, I think what's most disappointing to me is that for you, this has gone apparently from voting your conscience, to, this is a binary choice. Those are two different things: Voting my conscience means I can't vote for either one of these people. That's what that means to me.

What does vote your conscience mean to you?

TED: Still, with all respect, I don't agree with that. And one of the dynamics, if you go and look at what I said in Cleveland --

GLENN: We will.

TED: What I said in Cleveland was almost word-for-word what Ronald Reagan said about Gerald Ford in '76. And it was almost word-for-word what Ted Kennedy said about Jimmy Carter in 1980. And that was not accidental. Both of those were obvious historical analogues. Those were the two previous candidates who had come very close and nearly won the nomination. And my speech drew deliberately from both of those speeches. Both of those speeches at the time were treated as effectively endorsement speeches.

One of the unfortunate things about the reaction in Cleveland is that for many who were watching, it was perceived that I was essentially embracing Never Trump. I have never been a Never Trumper. You know, Glenn, you and I have talked about this. You have defended the position, I believe at times, of never supporting Trump. That's never been my position. I've never said it.

GLENN: And never supporting Hillary.

TED: Right.

GLENN: In fact, sir, I never actually endorsed you. Every single one of my speeches started the same way: I am not here to endorse Ted Cruz. I am here to endorse the ideas of America and the Constitution of the United States of America.

So I don't -- I don't -- I'm not never or always anything, except for constitutional principles.

TED: And you're preaching to the choir on that. But my point is, in Cleveland, I was not articulating, "Do not vote for Trump." I was articulating, "If you want my vote, defend freedom and defend the Constitution."

GLENN: Correct.

TED: What I was hoping to do was provide a path for the Republican nominee to focus on the issues that matter and bring us together. And I believe in putting out a list of Supreme Court justices and committing to that list, that was a major step in that direction.

I also think it was important last week when -- when I had been leading the fight in the United States Senate to protect freedom on the internet, to protect -- prevent Obama from giving away control of the internet to Russia and China and Iran. Hillary Clinton supports Obama in doing that. And Donald Trump came out strongly in support of my fight to protect the internet. That was significant.

The test I laid out in Cleveland was, "Will you defend freedom and defend the Constitution?" When Donald Trump comes in and supports our efforts to defend freedom, that's significant. Does it mean that he'll always do that in the future? No, I don't have certainty of any candidate on that.

But what I do know is that what Hillary is promising to do would do enormous damage. The court would be lost for a generation. And, you know, on the question of voting your conscience, listen, that is what I have struggled for months, prayerfully considering, "What is the right thing to do?" Any voter has five choices: You can vote for Hillary Clinton. You can vote for Donald Trump. You can vote third party. You can write somebody in. Or you can not vote in the presidential election.

I decided early on, I was Never Hillary. I was not and will never vote for Hillary Clinton. Part of what I thought about and wrestled about over the past several months is the last three options. I could not publicly defend -- I couldn't sit here on your radio show and urge voters to vote third party when a third party's not going to win and either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is going to be president. I couldn't urge someone to write someone in or not to vote. And so I was left with --

GLENN: I hate to interrupt you.

TED: My conscience left me as the only option, if I want to stop a Hillary Clinton presidency, is to vote for Trump. And that's ultimately what I concluded.

GLENN: I just have -- I have one more question, and this is worth $20,000 to me. Bump the next commercial, please. Take that first commercial. Give me the extra minute for his response because I'm up against a network break.

All of us have received pro-Trump emails, and we're now on the Trump bandwagon. I have taken advertising from Donald Trump. And I would take advertising from Hillary Clinton because this is a business and I don't believe keeping options gone.

However, I think everybody should be able to have their voice heard on the public airwaves. However, me getting information or email list now on Donald Trump is really rather annoying. The only person that I ever gave my information to was you.

As a candidate, you do not have to sell your list. Did you sell your list to Donald Trump?

TED: Well, Glenn, as you noted on your radio show, you sell advertising. It's actually what funds your radio show. And that's true of, as far as any radio show, that's how one communicates. That's also true of every candidate. You don't sell your list, but you rent your list. So if someone wants to access your supporters, they pay for it. And that helps fund your efforts. And so like every other candidate, sure, we have rented our list out for those who wish to pay for it. That is true, by the way, of every other candidate.

And so, yeah, there's a hit piece today in Politico, a left-wing rag that wants to -- that is hitting me --

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

TED: -- but somehow is not applying that standard to anyone else in the political world or for that matter anyone else on radio who sells advertising every day to fund communicating with the voters.

GLENN: Well, I do have that same standard. Thank you very much. Ted, I disagree with you. I disagree with you strongly, but I still respect you as a man. And you have done a lot of great. And I hope you continue to do a lot of great work in the future. Thank you for coming on the program.

TED: Well, Glenn, and you are my friend. I continue to respect you --

GLENN: I have to break. Thank you. I'm sorry, I have to break for this network. Here we go.

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