Cruz: Passing amnesty plan would be ‘self destructive,’ cost GOP the Senate

(David J. Phillip/AP)
(David J. Phillip/AP)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said Thursday morning that the Republican Party is poised to retake control of the Senate in November. But he warned that if the GOP-controlled House was to pass immigration reforms that includes "amnesty," that would hinder the Republicans’ chances in the Senate.

"If the House went down the road of passing a majority amnesty plan, I think that could screw up the election," Cruz said during a morning event hosted by Politico on Thursday. "I think the odds of Harry Reid remaining majority leader would jump tenfold."

Cruz's comments came during wide-ranging breakfast interview conducted by Politico's Mike Allen, hosted at the Newseum, during which the senator leveled harsh criticism of the news media, defended New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- calling the controversy over the closure of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge "nonsense" -- and blasted President Obama's foreign policy and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid's lack of movement on addressing the need to stimulate job growth.

Asked by Allen if the Republican Party is in a better position now than it was following Mitt Romney's presidential election loss in 2012, Cruz said that he believes so. Were this year's midterms held today, Cruz said, the GOP would take the Senate.

"I think 2014 is poised to be a very, very strong Republican year," Cruz said.

But, the senator and tea party hero noted that one factor that could derail the Republican chances in retaking the upper chamber would be if the GOP leadership "abandoned their principles."

"The way you win elections is you give people a reason to vote," Cruz said. "And taking principled stands is the way you do that."

Cruz was the leading critic of the GOP Senate leadership's move to allow Democrats to pass a debt ceiling increase without attaching entitlement or other spending cuts to the measure -- declaring after the vote that every Republican should have voted against bill.

"The debt ceiling debacle illustrates everything that's wrong with Washington," Cruz said.

Cruz declined several opportunities to directly criticize Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but he also refused to comment on whether or not he believes McConnell or Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) should be reelected in their primary contests against tea party challengers.

"I'm likely going to stay out of Republican primaries," Cruz said repeatedly, declining to say whether or not he will personally vote for Cornyn or for one of his two tea party challengers. "That's between me and the ballot box."

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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Wesley Lowery | February 27