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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript

Interview

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MR. TED CRUZ (Republican Nominee for U.S. Senate in Texas): Look, I think the biggest Ryan effect is that this race is going to focus on issues. I am thrilled with the pick of Paul Ryan. And-- and my view for months has been if this presidential race focuses on issues, if it focuses on the economy, on President Obama's abysmal economic record, Republicans win. If it's a battle of personalities, Republicans will lose. And the terrific impact of Paul Ryan is for the next three months we're going to be talking about economic issues, about how to get the 23 million Americans that are out of work back to work, and I think that is great going into--

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GREGORY: Well, but Ted Cruz, I mean, do you not argue, again, somebody who's aligned with the tea party, hey, all to the good. Let's talk about debt, let's talk about taxes, let's talk about role of government. Work for us in 2010 in the midterm race?

MR. CRUZ: Well, that's exactly right. These issues aren't disconnected. The reason the Tea Party arose, the reason we saw a tidal wave in 2010, and I think we're seeing a tidal wave in 2012 is-- is that the American people are fed up with politicians in both parties in Washington who keep spending money we don't have. We've got a 16-trillion dollar national debt, larger than our gross domestic product. And the-- the great virtue of the Paul Ryan pick is Paul Ryan a serious, substantive man who spent a lifetime in Congress working to roll up his sleeves and tackle these problems, and you want to turn the economy around, get the boot of the federal off the back and the necks of small businesses.

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MR. CRUZ: Look I think the reason is simple. It's because Paul Ryan has been serious about talking about these issues, about getting serious about solutions. You know, it's ironic…

GREGORY: But votes-- but votes matter.

MR. CRUZ: And-- and I don't-- and I don't agree with all of his votes. But-- but…

GREGORY: Do we have…

MR. CRUZ: …let's be-- let's be clear. Let's contrast the leadership Paul Ryan has shown…

GREGORY: Sure.

MR. CRUZ: …with President Obama's lack of leadership. The Senate for three years hasn't had a budget. And so it's very difficult for Democrats to complain, how dare the other side actually get serious about fixing these-- these problems when they don't even pretend to fix the problems.

MR. REED: He wasn't serious under President Bush. Why wasn't he serious when we were funding the war in Iraq? Why didn't he say America should pay for the war in Afghanistan? Why didn't he-- why didn't he say that when we have a TARP program, it needs to be available to folks on Main Street? He was for the automotive bailout.

MR. CRUZ: And, you know, I'm curious, did-- did Barack Obama say any of that?

MR. REED: He-- he was for that. No, no.

MR. CRUZ: Did the Democrats say any of that?

MR. REED: The Democrats did not. But I tell you what, we're not walking around talking about a guy who has a career doing something completely different. He has a budget that doesn't balance, and he's-- he claims that he's a budget balancer. He's using supply-side economics. They have a 20 percent tax policy that's a five-trillion-dollar tax cut.

MR. CRUZ: And I agree with you.

MR. REED: That doesn't make any sense.

MR. CRUZ: I agree with you but…

MR. REED: Doesn't make any sense.

MR. CRUZ: …that Republicans spent too much…

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MR. DIONNE: …he tried to reach a deal with John Boehner and that deal fell through. But he was willing to put a lot on the table.

GREGORY: Well-- well…

MR. CRUZ: And how many votes did that plan get?

MR. DIONNE: Well, that's-- that is a side issue because…

MR. CRUZ: It got zero votes. Not a Democrat…

MR. DIONNE: No, no, Obama…

MR. CRUZ: …in the Senate voted for it.

MR. DIONNE: Yes, because…

MR. CRUZ: Not one.

MR. DIONNE: …the vote was put up there as a political matter. The fact is it was a serious plan and serious budgets get voted on…

MR. CRUZ: He got zero votes in the Senate. That's not…

GREGORY: Let me…

MR. CRUZ: …a serious plan.

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MR. CRUZ: Look, I do believe it. And I think we're going to see that tested. I think people are ready for serious leadership.

GREGORY: But you did work for President Bush who tried these private accounts into Social Security. He wrote in his own memoir he regrets that. He would have tried for something else coming out of the gate in his second term.

MR. CRUZ: Listen, we need leadership to stand up and save Social Security and Medicare. And I think the Democrats are being reckless. Barack Obama is doing nothing to save Social Security and Medicare. And what the Romney/Ryan team is doing is running on leadership to get serious and save those programs, number one for seniors, for those 55 and over, to preserve every bit of benefits that are there. But number two, for younger folks to have fundamental reform in those programs so that they can be there…

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MR. CRUZ: Look, if you were doing fundamental reform to save the program then-- then that's something to celebrate. But the problem with what Barack Obama did is he took 716 billion dollars from Medicare, and he didn't use it to reform the program, he used it to fund Obamacare.

MR. TODD: You're in favor of those reforms though

(Cross talk)

MR. TODD: You are in favor of those reforms just not what he used the money for? Is that..

MR. CRUZ: What I'm in favor of is leadership to step up and save those programs. You know, it's interesting, we're talking about Joe Biden a minute ago. There's an old line in Washington that the classic definition of a gaffe is when a politician tells you what he actually thinks. I think both-- Joe Biden makes an awful lot of gaffes, because he actually says what he thinks, and the Obama strategy is not going to be to talk about serious solutions to our debt to the 23 million people out of work, it is going to be to distract and scare people. When he said they're going to keep you all in chains, we're going to see a lot of that for the next three months.

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