Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the one true conservative in a Republican party full of two-faced hypocrites — or at least that’s how he appears to portray himself in a book released on Tuesday.
“People recognize that a lot of politicians in Washington aren’t telling the truth,” Cruz told msnbc’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. The Republican presidential hopeful went on to say that, while a lot of Republicans denounced the Supreme Court last week for upholding the Affordable Care Act and legalizing same-sex marriage “in private they were celebrating.”
“During my time in the Senate, I’ve been amazed how many senators pose one way in public — as fiscal conservatives or staunch tea party supporters — and then in private do little or nothing to advance those principles,” Cruz says in his new book, “A Time for Truth.”
Cruz is hardly the first candidate to pitch himself as Washington’s only honest lawmaker, but he appears exceptionally willing to brand his party as a pack of spineless backbiters.
The Texas senator titled the first chapter of his book “Mendacity,” and spends its pages cataloging the ways Senate Republicans betrayed him and the conservative movement he stands for.
The chapter casts Mitch McConnell as its chief villain, accusing the Senate Majority Leader of cowering in fights over the debt ceiling and Obamacare, too afraid of bad headlines from the liberal media to stand up for conservative principles. But McConnell isn’t portrayed as merely a coward — he’s also a tyrant, who threatens Cruz with media smears and withheld funding unless he, too, capitulates to the liberal agenda.
“The Republican leadership’s attacks are amplified and made more effective by using friendly media outlets,” Cruz wrote. “When leadership is displeased, they place hit pieces with journalists only too happy to cooperate. Indeed, so much so that one particular Politico reporter often seems like he is Mitch McConnell’s press secretary; nearly every attack from leadership gets echoed and amplified in his stories.”
Cruz portrays himself as undaunted in the face of weak-willed bluster.
“Sometimes, people ask me, ‘When you have a room full of Republican senators yelling at you to back down and compromise your principles, why don’t you just give in? The answer is simple. I just remember all those men and women who pleaded with me, ‘Don’t become one of them,’” he says.
While Cruz focuses the brunt of his wrath on McConnell, he saves some ire for Kentucky’s other senator — Rand Paul, one of Cruz’s rivals for the GOP nomination in 2016.
In September of 2013, Cruz tried to rally Republicans around a quixotic plan to deny the federal government any funding unless large portions of the Affordable Care Act were defunded. Cruz gave a 21-hour speech from the Senate floor in an attempt to inspire his colleagues. His effort gained support from Utah Sen. Mike Lee, but Paul proved “notably less helpful,” according to Cruz’s account.
“My friend Rand Paul came to the Senate floor to ask questions that seemed deliberately designed to undermine our efforts,” he says in his book. “His questions echoed the skeptical attacks of Mitch McConnell, and I marveled that Rand had decided not to be with us in this fight.”
Cruz hopes his unsparing tales of his colleagues’ treachery will help Republican primary voters identify him as the race’s true conservative.
“In the 2016 primary, you’re going to have 15 candidates up there going, ‘I’m conservative. No, no, I’m conservative,’” Cruz told NPR on Monday. “I think the question Republican primary voters should ask is, ‘When have you stood up against the Washington cartel? When have you stood up against leaders in our own party?’”
But Cruz might be more loyal to that “cartel” than he leads his readers to believe.
The senator served as vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the group tasked with protecting Republican incumbents and winning new seats for the party. And to protect incumbents in 2014, the NRSC spent money to defeat tea party challengers in contested primary elections. How could Ted Cruz, the tea party’s most principled leader, agree to coordinate such a group?
Cruz explains the apparent hypocrisy with one word: “mendacity.” In Cruz’s telling, McConnell seduced him into the NRSC post by promising “that the committee would stay out of primaries from here on out.” Cruz wrote that once he realized he’d been duped, he “stopped asking donors to support” the committee.
But according to Politico, documents reveal that Cruz transferred $250,000 to the NRSC last September, making him the committee’s second most generous donor in the entire GOP caucus.