WASHINGTON – The Texan was too diplomatic to address the New Yorker’s attacks directly – even after his Republican colleague called him a “false leader.”
A soft-spoken Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, insisted he tried hard to ensure his marathon speech focused on defunding Obamacare and not the personalities involved, given the resistance of GOP leadership to his effort.
Despite those efforts, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., complained bitterly about his office getting bombarded with pro-Cruz and anti-Obamcare calls.
“The vehemence of the phone calls coming into the office. I don’t care, people can call me whatever they want … I haven’t heard such vile, profane, obscene language,” King said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Thursday.
“I’m not saying Ted Cruz is responsible for all his supporters, but he has tapped into a dark strain here in the American political psyche here, and again, the most obscene, profane stuff you can imagine all from people who say they support the Constitution,” King said. “I think what we have to do is reach out to his people and let them know that they’re following a false leader here.”
WND reported GOP Senate leaders were not answering their phones, but were getting blasted by constituents in social media, in response to the historic 21-hour speech Cruz gave supporting the defunding of Obamacare.
When asked if he sensed the tide turning among his colleagues, Cruz told WND, “Any senator who expresses annoyance or frustration at hearing from his or her constituents, and receiving phone calls or emails or tweets from his or her constituents, it seems to me, may’ve lost sight of the people for whom we are working.”
During a conference call with reporters, Cruz said the real disconnect is not among Republicans, but between Capitol Hill and Main Street, USA.
“The most fundamental divide in this country right now is the divide between the entrenched politicians in Washington and the American people.”
The Texan cited surveys showing Congress with approval ratings as low as 10 percent.
“I believe the reason is simple,” he said. “It is because a significant number of Republican and Democratic senators are not listening to the people.
“And, if we have accomplished anything this week, I hope we have made significant progress in changing that culture and helping bring senators back to the reason we are here. Which is, to listen to our constituents and to fight for our constituents.”
Cruz speculated, “[I]f we do so, we will stand united against Obamacare — because it is hurting millions of Americans.”
A key had been a cloture vote in the Senate on Friday, which did not turn out as the Texan had hoped.
That proposal to cut off debate passed in the Senate by a vote of 79-19.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid then added language to the bill restoring funding of Obamacare.
The bill then passed on a 54-44 party line vote, and now goes back to the House.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, needed to get only 41 out of 46 Republican senators to vote to block cloture, but he voted against that, along with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and 22 other GOP senators.
McConnell and other establishment Republicans feared they would take the blame for any government shutdown, even though the House bill was specifically designed to force Democrats to be the ones to shut down the government, should they refuse to defund Obamacare.
The day before, Cruz had told WND: “Any Senator who listens to his constituents will vote on cloture tomorrow. I don’t know how the Senators will vote tomorrow, but I hope they listen to their constituents.”
Cruz said what is needed now is GOP unity against a common enemy, Obamcare.
“Every Senate Republican ran on fighting Obamacare, and I guarantee you, the constituents of every Senate Republican, and, for that matter, every Senate Democrat, their constituents understand that Obamacare is a train wreck, it’s a nightmare, it’s not working and it’s hurting millions of Americans.”
Cruz believes the power of public opinion is key, and a CBS News poll shows most Americans disapprove of the law.
The task for Cruz is translating the will of the people into the power to stop Obamacare.
Cruz had called Friday’s cloture vote “the most important vote that I will have cast in the short nine months I have been in the Senate, and I think it is the most important vote any of my colleagues will cast this year.”
The Texas senator sounded determined, but seemed to sense what was coming.
“Based on their public statements, a significant number of Senate Republicans currently intend to vote with Senate Republican leadership to support Harry Reid and the Democrats and to allow Harry Reid to fund Obamcare,” Cruz said.
“I hope by tomorrow that is no longer the case. I don’t know whether it will be, or not.”
The Texan had said all hope would not be not lost if he and his cohorts lost the cloture vote.
“If enough Senate Republicans vote to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare, that does not mean the fight is over,” he said. “A bill to fund Obamacare will still go back to the House. House Republicans can, and should, continue to stand their ground.”
Cruz pointed out there is nothing forcing the House to ever approve a bill funding Obamacare.
“If the House holds firm, Harry Reid has no ability to muscle the House of Representatives.”
He described the most important role that he and like-minded senators such as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, can play: “to serve as a cheerleader supporting House Republicans to stand with the American people.”