Sen. Ted Cruz: 'Grassroots Tsunami' Needed to Defund Obamacare

By Susan Jones | August 26, 2013 | 5:47 AM EDT

Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks with reporters as he arrives at a state Republican fund-raiser Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 in Dublin, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

( - "We do not have the votes right now" to defund Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" on Sunday. He said the effort will be successful only if the grassroots gets behind it.

"We need 41 Republicans in the Senate or we need 218 Republicans in the House," Cruz said, speaking of next month's battle over a continuing resolution to keep the government running.

"And I'm convinced there's a new paradigm in politics that actually has Washington very uncomfortable. It has politicians in both parties very uncomfortable. And that new paradigm is the rise of the grassroots, the ability of grassroots activists to demand of their elected officials they do the right thing.

"And I believe if we see a grassroots tsunami, that is going to cause Republicans and Democrats to listen to the people."

"But it's going to take a tsunami," Crowley said.

"It is going to take a tsunami, and I'm going to do everything I can to encourage that tsunami," Cruz replied.

Cruz said he's "not at all convinced" that President Obama would refuse to sign a bill defunding Obamacare, even though the president views it as his most important achievement.

Cruz said the House of Representatives should pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government, except for Obamacare -- even if Democrats "scream and holler that the mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government."

Republicans, with grassroots support, must "stand up and win the argument" that they want to keep the government running, and they must show it is President Obama who is "threatening to shut down the government to force Obamacare down the throats of the American people," he said.

Cruz said the Affordable Care Act is "not working and it's hurting Americans. And by the way, the people it's hurting the most are the most vulnerable among us. The people who are losing their jobs are young people, are Hispanics, are African Americans, are single moms. I don't think that's fair, I don't think that's right."

On a different subject, Cruz was asked if he could see himself on a ticket with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.

"You know, I am not going to speculate about the future. I can tell you, my focus is 100 percent on the U.S. Senate because the Senate right now is the battleground." Nor would he say if he is considering a run for president himself.

"Listen, I understand in the media it's fun to cover the game, it's fun to cover politics all the time, but we've got huge challenges in this country," Cruz said.

"I am a big, big believer that good policy makes good politics, that if you stand up, you do the right thing, you roll up your sleeves, you try to work with Republicans, with Democrats, with anyone who will work together to get our economy moving, to bring jobs back, that the rest of it, the politics, will take care of itself.

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