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Cruz Heckled, Cheered At Values Voter Summit; Cruz: "We Are Going To Restore" America; GOP Stars At Conservative Summit; Interview with Rep. Sean Duffy; New Hope Of A Debt Ceiling Deal

Aired October 11, 2013 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You know, the nice thing, the nice thing is the left will always, always, always tell you who they fear -- and they fear you. They fear the American people. The fundamental problem in Washington is Washington is not listening to America. What happened? This fight on Obamacare, we went and made the case to the American people, launched a national website, don'tfundit.com. In a matter of just a few weeks, over 2 million Americans signed that petition on don'tfundit.com.

It is because of you that the House of Representatives has been standing strong because the House has been listening to the people. It is because of you that for the past two months the country has engaged in a national debate about the enormous harms Obamacare is causing. All of the millions of Americans who are being pushed into part-time work and losing their jobs and health insurance.

It is because of you that the American people are energized. And we see the Obama administration defending positions that are utterly and completely unreasonable. Repeatedly the house of representatives has acted to compromise to fund vital priorities and repeatedly President Obama and the Democrats have refused to negotiate. I will note, this afternoon, look, the Democrats are feeling the heat.

So this afternoon President Obama has invited the Senate Republicans to the White House. So after leaving here, I'm going to be going to the White House. I will make a request. If I'm never seen again, please send a search and rescue team. I very much hope by tomorrow morning I don't wake up amidst the Syrian rebels.

But listen, that's true. They'll talk to us unlike this administration. You're exactly right. Listen. None of us know what's going to happen on this Obamacare fight right now. In my view, the House of Representatives need to keep doing what it's been doing, which is standing strong.

And that is the model for every other fight. We need no more Washington solutions. We need to go back to the American people. The media tells us we cannot win. In fact, I think I read in the "The New York Times" today that Hillary has already started her second term. The media wants America to give up and allow this country to keep sliding off the edge of the cliff. But let me tell you, there are two things I have an abiding faith in. One is a benevolent God who loves each and every one of us. And number two is the American people who love liberty and opportunity unlike any nation, any people in the history of this world. Many of y'all know my father, Rafael Cruz. I am hoping in time I can encourage him not to be such a wall flower. When he fled Cuba 55 years ago after being imprisoned and beaten, when he came here seeking freedom, he did it because no nation on earth has allowed so many millions of people come with nothing and achieve anything and achieve the American dream.

What does it take to win this fight? It takes the men and women in this room. Each of you is called to be here. Much like Esther, you were called for a time such as this. For 400 years, every generation of Americans has given to their kids and grandkids greater opportunity, greater prosperity, a greater future. If we keep going down this road, we will become the first generation not to do that.

And every man and woman in this room believes in your heart and in your gut and soul that is utterly and completely unacceptable. As Ronald Reagan famously observed, freedom is not passed down in the bloodstream from one generation to the next. Every generation has to rise up and defend it or one day we will find ourselves answering questions from our children and our children's children, what was it like when America was free?

None of us will ever have to answer that question. Because together the American people, we are going to restore that shining city on a hill that is the United States of America. Thank you and God bless you.

(END LIVE FEED)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you have been listening to Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, addressing the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. He received an ovation from the crowd there, largely social conservatives. He also was heckled for quite a long time by several people. We believe they were members of the Fair Immigration Group, heckled. He had quite an exchange with them at one point.

He accused them of being paid operatives from the Obama administration. He called on the House to continue their stand against a possible budget deal, and he also talked to the crowd there about restoring faith in America. I'm joined by Will Cain right now, a columnist for the blaze.com, also a CNN political contributor. Will, what did you make of Senator Cruz's speech today?

WILL CAIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Senator Cruz can give an amazing speech. He takes the highs, lows, passion, humor, he responded well, you know, adlibbing versus those hecklers. But he took time to talk about the strategy, about keeping the shutdown going. Here's the deal, John, it's worth analyzing the strategy over and over again.

I am one of these crazy conservatives who thinks the government shutdown actually isn't that big of a deal when compared against the potential damage of expanding the government's influence in the health care market. But I also recognize reality. One NBC poll, is it the argument ender? I don't know. But apparently the American public doesn't agree with me. That this offset is not one they're willing to make as well. And if that's the case, the strategy isn't working.

BERMAN: He made quite a joke. Ted Cruz mentioned that he is one of many Republicans senators going to the White House this afternoon to meet with the president. He said, you know, if I don't emerge, if you don't see me, you know send a search and rescue party. He joked he might end up with the Syrian rebels somewhere. It's somewhat ironic, though, because you could make the case, the last person in the world the White House wants to disappear right now is Ted Cruz. One could argue that Ted Cruz is doing the White House a lot of good right now.

CAIN: If that NBC poll is really definitive, if it really describes where the American electorate is right now and you suggest that Ted Cruz's positions over the last couple of weeks are responsible for that, yes, those hecklers should get and out let Ted Cruz continue his influence. I agree with Cruz. I want him to accomplish his goals. I wish that he could, but it all hinged on one thing.

This is what separated Ted Cruz from Paul Ryan. Not their conservatism, but rather could he swing five senators? Could you force President Obama to decrease his own bill? And the only way to do that was to get the American public so on your five that they had to respond. It doesn't seem to be going well.

BERMAN: You brought up Paul Ryan. But I want to go to the floor there of the Value Voters Summit. Our Mark Preston has been there for the speech given by Senator Ted Cruz. He watched the heckling that was going on. Mark, I'm wondering if you can tell us exactly what happened.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Sure, John. What we saw on the floor was no fewer than seven times did we see people stand up and shout at Ted Cruz and ask him his stand on illegal immigration and why is he standing in the way of trying to create a pathway for citizenship for those that are here illegally. Now, they were roundly shouted down.

And I've got to tell you, Ted Cruz is really a masterful technician when he's on the stage. He handled it very developing. And he was able to turn that into a joke and say that, in fact, they were operatives for President Obama, which in turn got the audience very much involved and on his side.

At least seven times he was stopped in the middle of his remarks. But Ted Cruz is the type of politician, John, that really does well in these types of environments. And in fact, he used it as fuel to try to build more momentum behind his speech.

BERMAN: He talked a little about the shutdown debate going on right now and the debt ceiling debate. And he called on the House to stand firm and that got quite a bit of applause there in that room -- Mark.

PRESTON: Yes. And again, what you and I talked about last hour is exactly what we expected to play out. Ted Cruz is in his element right now. While we're across town and Republican establishment types are trying to figure out a deal with President Obama, you have Ted Cruz here in front of 2,000 conservative activists who don't want to see a deal done.

And you've got to give Ted Cruz in some ways a little bit of credit for having the humorous to say, I'm going to the White House right now after I'm done speaking, and if I don't come out alive, send a search and rescue team. That's quite a thing to say right before you meet the president of the United States whether you like him politically or not. But again another line that played very well in front of this audience, this conservative grassroots activists -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Mark Preston for us at the Value Voters Summit. Mark, we joked about a search and rescue team maybe disappearing at the White House, but it could be that they want him around right now for what he's been giving them.

I do want to ask you about Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, the Republican vice presidential nominee. He appears to have been instrumental in whatever movement there has been over the last 24 hours towards a possible debt ceiling deal.

When you're talking about the wing of the party that's been cheering Ted Cruz at the Values Voters Summit, where I believe we will hear from Paul Ryan later today, will that hand that Paul Ryan has been reaching out to the White House, will that work for him or work against him? Is he playing with fire here when it comes to perhaps Tea Party voters?

CAIN: Yes, he might be. Look, I'll tell you honestly, I've seen Paul Ryan call a rhino.

BERMAN: Republican in name only.

CAIN: Right, which I cannot wrap my mind around. Paul Ryan is as conservative as it gets unless you're requiring 100 percent agreement on every issue. And I can't -- I can't imagine that we're maligning Paul Ryan and Ron Johnson. Can I tell you this? You have me on here telling you the flaws in the strategy in the Ted Cruz strategy?

Here is the best rebuttal. If it you had anything further to my right, what's your strategy? Ted Cruz's strategy might be bad, but what's the alternative strategy? There might not be one that involves Obamacare. His focuses on entitlement reform and tax reform, very important issues. He says Obama care is not off the table, he wants to include it.

BERMAN: But just to reiterate, you are hearing already some complaints from the right about what he is doing?

CAIN: I have heard those complaints.

BERMAN: Thank you so much. We've got a lot left to talk about. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: All right, this morning there is some new hope of a deal to raise the debt ceiling before the government defaults, but no deal to end the government shutdown. The president met with a small group of House Republican leaders last night. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor calling the meeting very useful.

It seems at least some Republicans are dropping their fight to tie defunding Obamacare to the debt ceiling, maybe even the funding bill. Joining us now from Capitol Hill is Republican Congressman Sean Duffy from Wisconsin.

Congressman Duffy, thank you so much for being with us right now. I guess we're about 16 hours or so after the meeting at the White House. Republican leaders say they're going to go back and go to the drawing board and work on the contours of a possible deal. I'm wondering if you can give us an update about what you are hearing this morning.

REPRESENTATIVE SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: What we're hearing is we have a conversation going on. For the last two weeks during the course of the shutdown, there's been no conversation with the White House because the president had refused to negotiate. And last night that conversation actually started.

I think we're off to a really good start with both sides sitting at the table and having a conversation. As you mentioned, there's a conversation about the debt limit, but when you start to talk, we're also going to be including how we get the government open again and running. Maybe to correct one thing you said on the way in, right now, House Republicans haven't asked to defund Obamacare.

All we've asked for before the government shutdown is that the president go into Obamacare, he join Congress and the rest of America and Obamacare, and we wanted the same treatment for the American families and individuals just like the way they're --

BERMAN: There was a vote that you sent to the Senate and one that defunded it, and one that delayed it, and the third one delayed the individual mandate. But the House absolutely did at one point call for defunding Obamacare as part of that process.

DUFFY: No, you are referencing one of the prior votes. But the most recent one was to make sure the president was in Obamacare and the administration was in the Obamacare and the individual mandate was delayed just like the employers and big businessmen was delayed.

BERMAN: Let's talk about -- if you talked about funding government though. And one of the things that reportedly happened last night was that the congressmen in that room were supposed to go back to their offices and come up with what they would need to get from the president in order to re-open the government, to end the shutdown. What do you think those items are?

DUFFY: Well, first of all, I just laid out what our issues were in regard to opening the government back up. I think what we're going to do in our House conference is sit and have a family conversation. We need to hear from everybody about what is the next place we can go in regard to an offer to the president.

But we have to get an idea from the president that he's willing to say you guys have offered a total defund, a delay for a year, and now you've offered the fact that I should go into Obamacare. I think he also have to make a proposal to us about where he'll come taking steps in our direction on how he'll make some kind of an agreement.

BERMAN: You do think something involved with Obamacare, whether it being a delay or parts of individual mandate, something in your mind has to be included in order to re-open the government?

DUFFY: Well, I think -- I think minimally I want to see the president and the administration in Obama care with the rest of America. Look at the rollout with the exchanges. They haven't been going very well. And those who are responsible to make sure it's working and working well for the American people, should also have the incentive that they're in that plan.

That they don't have a separate health care plan themselves and if it's good for the American people, it's also good for the administration. That's a real important tenant for us that everybody be treated equal. And we can have a discussion with the president in regard to the individual mandate.

If he thinks that's going to have a huge impact on the success of Obamacare, I would be willing to hear him out on that. I don't think it will. I think to say we're going to tax or penalize people because they don't get health or insurance as prescribed by Obamacare, when they can't even sign up on the web site, it seems to be a little unfair. So to ask for a year delay seems pretty reasonable on our part.

BERMAN: The White House has made it pretty clear from the beginning here that they do not desire Obamacare, would not accept any aspect of Obamacare being involved in the discussion here. So it doesn't seem likely that the White House would agree to any part of that discussion. Last question to you, Congressman. Based on what's happened right now, we're 11 days into the shutdown, the debt ceiling looming days away, based on the contours of what the Republican Party seems to at least be willing to agree to on the debt ceiling, do you think that this has all been worth it? Do you think the stand on Obamacare that was made more than 11 days ago, do you think that was worth it to shut down the government to get the deal that you may be close to getting?

DUFFY: First of all, I think the government shutdown is never the right answer. I think in current polls people are mad and they're mad at Washington as a whole. They want to see their government work. They want to see people with different ideas actually sit down and work together to resolve their differences just like we do in families and businesses.

So I'm not happy with where we're at. I'm like the American people. I'm just as angry at Congress. But I do think as we look at the debt limit and raising it, American understands that we have a $17 trillion debt and we're borrowing about $1 trillion every year. And if we're going to extend the credit card of the American government, we should also talk about how we spend.

I think we can have that conversation. I think the president, whether we're going towards tax reform or entitlement reform, there's a lot of areas that we can find agreement and I'm hopeful that that's going to happen as we look forward to the negotiations.

BERMAN: I think a lot of people are hopeful are discussions are happening. But the latest NBC/ "The Wall Street Journal" poll says they're mad at you, or at least Republicans, more by a margin of 22 percent. Americans blame Republicans in Congress more than the president for the shutdown. Is this something that you think will have a lingering effect on the Republican Party?

DUFFY: I think they're had at everybody. Everybody has been hit by this shutdown on government and I talk to my colleagues in Congress, whether Republicans or Democrats, they join the American people. They, too, are angry at how ineffective the negotiations and process has been here. I think we all have to take a deep breath, work together, and get the government open. Find a solution to reforming the way we spend and borrow, and increase the debt limit.

BERMAN: Congressman, I know you're a sports fan. Can you give me odds on when a deal might be struck on the debt ceiling and government shutdown? Do you think that could happen by the end of the week on either?

DUFFY: Yes, listen, the most recent news I had the negotiations are continuing. My hope is we might have more news later on today or early tomorrow on some form of a structured deal on how we get this done.

BERMAN: That's news. Can you give me a little more specific on that? The latest that you're hearing is that it is moving along? There could be a vote later on this afternoon do you think?

DUFFY: Not a vote. We're talking about actually the formation of a deal. So the conversations are continuing. My hope is potentially later today we could have some sort of a structured deal or tomorrow on how we deal with the debt limit.

BERMAN: Thank you for that information. Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, thank you so much for being with us, really great having you here. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: They are the greatest generation, but now America's seniors are dealing from the fallout of what's going on in Washington and they are very concerned for the future of programs like Medicare and Social Security. John Zarrella is live at an active seniors community in Plantation, Florida. John, what are you hearing there?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, this is a community called Lauderdale West. There are about 2,500 people who live out here. They live in single-family homes, duplexes, quads. They would all tell you they live comfortably, but that they are not wealthy. And that their biggest concerns are they don't want Congress messing around with social security or Medicare. And while some of them say, they would like to see both sides compromise, there's others who tell their parties, stick to their guns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the Democrats have to stick to their resolve. They should not cave in to any of the demands of the Republicans unless they're a moderate demand, something that makes sense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are making their salaries, but how about the people who don't have money to provide for their families who rely on the government to help them? You know, and some of them are very hard working. They make minimum wage and then they have nothing in addition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's embarrassing. There are a lot of intelligent men and women there. They're really bright people. But their eyes are clouded, brains are clouded. They've got brain clouds because -- yes, this is my position. I understand that, but politics is the art of negotiation and settlement and you're not being politicians. You're being ideologues and that's our problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Every one of the seniors that I talked with yesterday all expressed the same thing. They were embarrassed by what's going on in Washington and that really gives the rest of the world a pretty bad image of the United States. And one woman told me this morning, she said, part of the problem with the entitlement programs is that all of these people, the elderly are just living too long these days. So they do have a sense of humor.