Borg: When we say that Ted Cruz is running for president, we're emphasizing running, and not just campaign rigor. He's 44-years-old, 45 in December, two years into a six-year U.S. Senate term, 20 years out of Harvard Law School, clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, served in the Federal Justice Department, directed the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Policy and Planning and then Solicitor General for Texas before moving onto the U.S. Senate. Senator Cruz, I might say thanks for pausing long enough to be at the Iowa Press table today. And the fast track is a lifestyle.

Cruz: Well, Dean, I'm thrilled to be with you. I will say it has been an incredible journey. The campaign I've analogized to riding a tiger, it all goes great as long as you don't let go.

Borg: We hope that you'll hang on then today because across the table Associated Press Political Writer Catherine Lucey and Radio Iowa's News Director Kay Henderson.

Henderson: Senator, you have been making the point that conservatives need to unite behind a single candidate. Do you need to offer conservatives a critique of the other conservatives in the race? How do you get people to unit?

Cruz: Well, I think we're having an ongoing discussion about the different records of the different candidates and I think we've seen this in both of the first two debates, the distinction between campaign conservatives who talk a good game on the campaign trail but haven't walked the walk and a consistent conservative. And I think that is the reason our campaign is getting so much momentum is that as people are starting to examine the records there are real differences among the candidates on records. So you take, for example, immigration. Every candidate on that debate stage claims to oppose amnesty and yet a majority of those candidates have publicly, vocally supported amnesty. And I'm the only candidate standing on that stage who has consistently opposed amnesty and indeed who has led the fight, along with Iowa's own Steve King, along with Senator Jeff Sessions, to defeat amnesty in Congress. That is an example where when people examine our records they see real differences. And I think people are looking for a conservative who they can trust to be the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Lucey: So here in Iowa you have called on conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, the state operation. Governor Terry Branstad has made clear that no public money goes to abortions here in Iowa. What more should he be doing?

Cruz: I would encourage every state government, and I am fighting for the federal government, to defund Planned Parenthood as an institution. Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. And money is fungible, saying you only put it in the left pocket and not the right pocket is the sort of distinction only a politician could love. You look at these videos, these videos that have come out on Planned Parenthood, they're incredibly disturbing and I would encourage everyone watching this show, if you haven't watched the videos, watch them, even if and in fact especially if you consider yourself pro-choice.

Lucey: Is Governor Terry Branstad not doing enough then? Should he be doing more?

Cruz: Look, I would encourage every elected official to not be sending taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood and let me underscore why --

Borg: That is why you call out Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. That's really what she's asking.

Cruz: But Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is part of a national organization, Planned Parenthood. And what these videos show are senior Planned Parenthood officials essentially admitting to a pattern of ongoing felonies. What these videos show is senior officials, they're laughing, they're sipping Chardonnay and they barter and sell the body parts of unborn children. And one senior official says she wants to sell so many body parts that she wants to buy a Lamborghini. And I want to encourage people, watch it and ask yourself, are these my values? But in addition to being horrifying, what they confess to is also criminal. It is a federal criminal offense, it's a felony with a ten-year jail term to sell the body parts of unborn children for profit. And so it ought to be an easy proposition to say of course we should not be giving millions of taxpayer dollars, your and my money, to fund an organization that is right now the target of multiple criminal investigations nationwide.

Borg: But that's not going anywhere in Congress. It's not going to get to the White House the way that it looks right now. And if it did, President Obama wouldn't sign it.

Cruz: Well, we'll see how that plays out. You're right that President Obama has taken a really extreme position. What President Obama has said is he has said if Congress doesn't send $500 million of your and my taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, now mind you they're a private organization, it's not the government, it's a private organization that he happens to favor politically, then President Obama has said he will veto funding for the entire federal government unless $500 million goes to this private organization. That is a radical and extreme proposition. In my view, republicans in Congress we should actually do what we were elected to do. If there is any purpose in having republican majorities in both houses we should behave like that and we should fund all of the federal government but we shouldn't be sending taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal --

Borg: You mean shutting down the federal government.

Cruz: Of course it's not and that's why President Obama shouldn't veto funding. Look, if Congress funds the entire government and the President vetoes funding for the government, it's not complicated who is shutting down the government, it is the person vetoing it saying, I will not allow the government to be funded unless this private organization that is subject to multiple criminal investigations gets $500 million. Now I understand the democrat talking point, which sadly gets repeated a lot in the media, is you always blame a government shutdown on republicans, even if it is Barack Obama vetoing the funding for partisan political reasons. But it isn't complicated that if he's vetoing the funding, it would be Obama shutting down the government and that would be a mistake.

Lucey: You've been critical of your party leaders in Washington. You said in Iowa they're trying to "pound us into submission" on this issue. But you're running for president. If you become president a lot of those leaders will probably still be in Washington. How are you going to work with folks after you have run a lengthy campaign that has been so critical?

Cruz: Listen, if folks are looking for someone to manage Washington, to manage the decline of the republic, then I ain't your guy. If you think things are going well in Washington, we need to keep going in the same direction, that's not what this campaign is about. If you think, as I do, that Washington is fundamentally broken, that there is a bipartisan corruption, career politicians in both parties who get in bed with lobbyists and special interests and grow and grow and grow government, if you think we need to bring power out of Washington and back to we the people, that is what this campaign is all about. And I would note, we have a precedent for that succeeding. People ask, can we break the Washington cartel? In this primary season there are a lot of candidates posturing and positioning themselves as outsiders, as people who will stand up to Washington. Look, the question I think people should ask is okay, who actually has stood up to Washington? And if you look in 1980, the Reagan revolution, it was the last time we broke the Washington cartel, it rose up from the American people. Ronald Reagan took on career politicians in both parties. That's the same thing I've been doing in Washington, it's the same thing I'll do as president. And the Reagan revolution turned this country around. We did it before, we can do it again.

Henderson: So you said there are a lot of folks among the GOP field positioning themselves as outsiders. Who is the wolf in sheep's clothing here?

Cruz: Well, listen, at the end of the day I think every candidate will be judged by his or her record. And the question that republican primary voters are asking of each candidate, if you say you oppose Obamacare, great. When have you stood and led the fight to stop it? If you say you oppose amnesty, what have you done to stop it? If you say you support religious liberty, show me where you have stood in the foxhole and led and fight. And the biggest difference between my record and that of everyone else is that I've been a consistent conservative, a social conservative, a fiscal conservative, a national security conservative and people are looking for someone who doesn't just discover conservative values when they launch their campaign for president, but rather, as the scripture says, you shall know them by their fruits, has been walking the walk consistently.

Henderson: One of your colleagues, Governor Jindal, was willing to call out Mr. Trump for being one of those who has just embraced conservatism because it's a good selling point. You have been reticent to do that. There are some policy differences that the two of you have. Why aren't you hammering away on the policy differences to get people who are becoming disillusioned with the front-runner to come to your side?

Cruz: Listen, I like both Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump. I respect them both. They're both good people. There are a lot of folks -- you look at these debates moderated by the media -- there are a lot of folks that want to see republicans tearing each other apart. They want to see basically a food fight. I kind of thought this week's debate, at times it was almost like they wanted it to be the Jerry Springer show, they wanted one of us to start throwing chairs. I'm not going to play that game. I think the American people are not interested in a bunch of politicians bickering like school children. I think what people are interested in is real and positive solutions for the challenges facing this country. So my focus is on, number one, a proven record of standing for conservative principles. But number two, how do we turn things around? We turn things around by bringing back jobs and growth and opportunity, by getting the economy booming again. We turn things around by defending constitutional rights like religious liberty and we turn things around by restoring American leadership in the world. And so my focus is on issues and substance and record and policy. And I'll leave the food fight to others but I'm not going to engage in it.

Lucey: Voters are energized by Dr. Ben Carson's campaign in this race. He has said that a Muslim would not be qualified to be president. Do you agree?

Cruz: You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office. And I'm a constitutionalist. I will note that the press has loved asking in the past couple of days questions about President Obama and his religion and I guess it all started with a town hall with Donald Trump. And my view, listen, the President's faith is between him and God. What I'm going to focus on is his public policy record. And his public policy record has been atrocious. And when it comes in particular to Christians, religious liberty in this country is under assault.  A few weeks ago I hosted a religious liberty rally here in Iowa. We had 2,500 people come out, it was an incredible event. Featured nine heroes who have stood and defended their faith and they have been persecuted for it. Many of them have been fired, they faced death threats, the government going after them for standing for their faith and they told their stories, I'll tell you, it was an inspirational and uplifting evening. I would encourage anyone who is interested, go to our website, it's tedcruz.org, tedcruz.org. You can watch the whole rally. You will be uplifted by these stories. And President Obama and his administration is directly responsible for the persecution of religious liberty, the persecution of Christians in this country and on the flip side, President Obama's foreign policy has created the conditions that have seen the rise of radical Islamic terrorism and he refuses even to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism. That is a policy difference that I have with the President that is very important and it is damaging this country.

Lucey: Just to be clear, going back to the original question, Ben Carson was talking about Muslims in general, not about President Obama.

Cruz: Well, and I think what we need to be focusing on is public policy positions. That's going to be my focus. It's not going to be on the personal attacks.

Henderson: Speaking of public policy, the President has suggested that the U.S. will begin accepting refugees from Syria. What would be President Cruz's criteria for accepting refugees from that region?

Cruz: I think the President's proposal is nothing short of crazy. We do not need to be bringing in tens of thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria, particularly -- there is a consequence -- when you have an administration that literally will not say radical Islamic terrorism, that means they likewise are completely ineffective actually screening for radical Islamic terrorism among those coming in.

Borg: Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, one of your Senate colleagues, says, implies that it is dangerous to be bringing in Syrian refugees, dangerous for the security of the country. Is that your stance?

Cruz: Of course it is. If you look right now at the refugees that are in Europe, 77% of those refugees are young men. Now that is an unusual demographic among refugees. That is not typically how refugee waves occur. Young men and indeed the Director of National Intelligence said there is a very real possibility that among those refugees are a significant number of ISIS terrorists. The idea that we should just be bringing people in willy-nilly, ISIS, the radical Jihadists have declared war on America and they want to murder Americans. So what should we be doing? Look, with the refugees from Syria there is a humanitarian crisis happening, now this is a crisis in many ways that is the result of the failed Obama-Clinton foreign policy. These people are fleeing ISIS, they're fleeing Iran, they're fleeing the regimes there --

Borg: But where do they go?

Cruz: They should go to other Middle Eastern countries, other Muslim countries. They should be settled there. I'll note none of those countries are taking in the Central American refugees from our hemisphere that are coming up here. You don't see Europe taking in the Central American refugees. They should be in countries throughout the Middle East. And the whole point of refugees is, it is usually a temporary move until the crisis they are fleeing subsists and they can go back. And so, look, we could provide financial assistance to help settle them in Saudi Arabia, to help settle them in Egypt, to help settle them in Georgia, in Jordan, although I'll note, many of those governments don't want them. Why? Because they know that among these refugees are a significant number of Jihadists. They don't want them there for security threats there. All the more so we shouldn't have them living here in Iowa.

Borg: Go ahead, Kay.

Henderson: What about the Christians among refugees?

Cruz: I think the Christians are a very different circumstance because Christians are being persecuted, they're being persecuted directly for their faith and the Obama administration has abandoned Middle East Christians. Recently John Kerry and the State Department had a briefing with members of the Senate and they asked the State Department, what percentage of the Syrian refugees who have been admitted to the country so far are Christians? The answer was 3%. Now mind you, ISIS is crucifying Christians, they are beheading them, they are using horrifically rape as a weapon of warfare driven by their radical Islamic Jihad philosophy --

Borg: Senator, let me --

Cruz: Providing refuge for the Christians fleeing religious persecution is an altogether different circumstance, particularly because there is not a terrorist threat presented in the Christian community the same as there is unfortunately in the Muslim community.

Borg: Let me bring this back to something you mentioned earlier and broaden it to immigration. You said you were a consistent conservative on immigration as it relates to amnesty. Well, that may be a winning issue among conservatives, it may secure you the nomination. But how is that going to play in actually among the general electorate in propelling you to the White House?

Cruz: Look, it's one of the reasons that I think the last two republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, lost because both of them had embraced amnesty and if you look at the last two elections -- I'm a numbers guy, I'm a data guy -- I think our country is in crisis. I think we cannot continue another four or eight more years down this road. And if you compare 2004, the last race republicans won, 2008 and 2012, by far the biggest difference is the millions of conservatives who showed up in '04, who stayed home in '08 and stayed home in bigger numbers in '12 and they basically fall into two categories. Number one, evangelical Christians. There are about 90 million evangelicals in this country. 54 million evangelicals stayed home in 2012. And then number two, so-called Reagan democrats, largely blue collar Catholics up and down the Midwest up into New England, showed up in massive numbers in '04, stayed home in '08 and '12. If we're going to win in 2016 we've got to bring back the millions of conservatives who stayed home. And, by the way, amnesty, if you look at both of those groups of voters, they're predominantly working class men and women, amnesty is a 70%, 80%, 90% issue among the people staying home. Part of the reason they're staying home is too many republicans join with the democrats in welcoming illegal immigration and amnesty. We've got to bring them back. And one final point, Dean, the media says well you've got to embrace amnesty to get the Hispanic vote. That just ain't true. Look, I am the son of a Cuban immigrant who was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. My dad came to America with nothing, with $100 and underwear, didn't speak English, washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. When I ran for Senate in Texas, I won 40% of the Hispanic vote --

Borg: Tell me then how that gets the wider vote?

Cruz: Well, my point is simple. I won 40% of the Hispanic vote in Texas at the exact same time Mitt Romney was getting clobbered with 27% of the Hispanic vote nationwide. And, by the way, I ran unequivocally opposed to amnesty. Look, Hispanics who are here legally, they're losing their jobs to people here illegally. Hispanics who are here legally are not advocating for amnesty and if we embrace economic growth and jobs for everyone that is a broad agenda.


Borg: We have far more questions than we have time. Catherine?

Lucey: Pope Francis is coming to do a major American visit. Obviously he has energized a lot of Catholics and non-Catholics with his message. But I think some conservatives feel that he might have strayed too far into politics with his messages about climate change and capitalism. Do you agree?

Cruz: Well, listen, I respect Pope Francis as a religious leader. What I think we should focus on is what works. When it comes to poverty I think the Pope has had an admirable focus on poverty. But here's the reality of what the facts show. The American free enterprise system has been the greatest engine for prosperity and opportunity the world has ever seen. When left embrace Socialism, embrace government control of the economy and redistribution, the people that get hurt the most are not the rich. If you go to Socialist countries there's lots of rich people, there are just no new rich people. It freezes everything in place. I view everything from the perspective of my dad when he was a teenage immigrant washing dishes. We should focus on economic mobility and the way we have economic mobility is a robust free enterprise system with booming economic growth. That's why millions of people from all over the world come to America, because there is more opportunity here than anywhere else. And so if you want to alleviate poverty, you should expand free enterprise principles, not expand Socialism.

Henderson: You have been an advocate of a flat tax. Is that for individuals and corporations?

Cruz: Yes. Yes. I would have a uniform, simple tax code. And the biggest reason is two-fold. Right now we spend about $500 billion a year on tax compliance, on lawyers, accountants, paperwork. That is all wasted. If you have a simple, flat tax every American could fill out his or her taxes on a postcard and it becomes far more simple, we stop wasting time and energy. But the biggest value is that it disempowers politicians. Right now the way Washington works, if you're a small business owner and you go to Washington, you see your member of Congress, you say hey, can you help me out, can you give me a special provision in the tax code - -there are more words in the tax code right now than in the Bible and many of them are carve outs that are special cronyism and handouts and what happens is the politicians, sure we can help you out, we can carve something just for you. Hey, by the way --

Borg: So flat tax, Senator, flat tax for individuals and corporations?

Cruz: Yes.

Borg: Okay. Catherine?

Cruz: Let me quickly finish this point, which is they say sure we can carve this out for you, but, by the way, I've got a fundraiser on Tuesday, you'll be there. And it strengthens the politicians. With a flat tax, the politicians have to say to you, you know what, Kay, you pay the same tax rate everyone else does, you've got to build a better mouse trap and that weakens Washington and empowers the private sector.

Borg: Kay?

Cruz: The Donald has suggested that hedge fund managers should pay far more than they currently are. How do you resolve issues of equity? Do you get there by having just a flat rate for everybody?

Cruz: That's exactly right. If you have a flat, uniform rate for everyone then you don't have politicians picking winners and losers, you don't have politicians deciding I like you, I don't like you but if you make different campaign contributions maybe I'll switch that tomorrow. If it's low and fair and uniform that empowers everybody.

Lucey: And you have talked a lot about sanctuary cities and your concerns about that and also about the issue with this clerk who didn't want to give marriage licenses --

Borg: Kim Davis.

Lucey: Kim Davis, thank you. Do you think there's a situation where you're supporting the rule of law in one situation and not the other?

Cruz: I have spent my entire life fighting to defend the Constitution. When it comes to sanctuary cities, you have cities that are defying federal law. You look at the city of San Francisco, San Francisco, the mayor brazenly invites illegal immigrants to come to San Francisco. Now the result is you get violent, criminal, illegal aliens like the individual who allegedly murdered Kate Steinle. That doesn't make any sense and it certainly doesn't make any sense that we should continue sending federal funds to cities led by democratic elected officials that are defying federal law. Now, shift to the situation of Kim Davis. I stand unequivocally with Kim Davis.

Lucey: So why is it okay for her not to follow the law and do her job?

Cruz: Well, but the premise if your question is false. And there are two things. Number one, it's not following the law. Courts don't make law. This Supreme Court opinion was fundamentally illegitimate, it was lawless, it was, as Justice Scalia said in dissent in the gay marriage decision, five unelected lawyers declaring themselves the rulers of 320 million Americans. That is the problem is you have rampant judicial activism. That is what caused the problem to begin with. But beyond that, under Kentucky law, Kentucky has a religious freedom restoration act, which protects the religious liberty of every American. We make accommodations all the time. So Jehovah's Witnesses are exempted from making oaths or affirmations. The Amish are exempted from mandatory schooling. Christian scientists are exempted from mandatory medical treatment. Jews are exempted from having to work on the Sabbath. Ms. Davis, under Kentucky law, had a right to a reasonable accommodation and yet the position of Kentucky and this federal judge was Christians don't get the same religious right everyone else does and he threw her in jail, ignoring Kentucky law. It was wrong and I'll tell you, I have spent 20 years of my life fighting for religious liberty. It is a foundational liberty in this country.

Borg: Final question, Kay.

Henderson: You have two young girls. When the Obama's moved in the White House they had two young girls and brought in the Jonas Brothers as a nice gift. Have you thought what gift you may give your two young daughters as president?

Cruz: Well, I will confess I have not. My daughters, particularly -- they're seven and four, Caroline and Catherine -- Caroline is a cynic. She is impressed by really nothing her daddy has done. I'll tell you two very quick Caroline stories. One a month after the campaign started, Caroline looked at Heidi and me and said, okay, daddy how many states have you won? So that was a month into it. She was unimpressed that we had not yet won any states. But a second story, quickly, so we live in a condo in Houston, doesn't have a back yard, and about a year ago we got the girls a little white fluffy puppy named Snowflake. And before launching the campaign Heidi and I sat down with the girls and we talked to them about it. And Caroline said, okay daddy, I decided it's okay if you run for president because if you win then Snowflake will have a back yard to pee in.

Borg: And I have to stop there. No more stories. Thank you so much, Senator.

Cruz: Thank you, Dean.

Borg: And we'll be back next weekend with another edition of Iowa Press. I'm Dean Borg. Thanks for joining us. 

More from this show

Iowa Bankers Association
Associated General Contractors of Iowa