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Cruz On His Plan To Battle ISIS; Cruz Tax Plan Would Replace Code With 10 Percent Flat Tax. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired November 5, 2015 - 16:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. More now on our Politics Lead. It's being called the most significant terrorist attack since -- since September 11, U.S. intelligence suggesting that, in all likelihood, an ISIS bomb planted among luggage brought down that Russian passenger jet, killing 224 people, including 25 children.

So, will this permanently or in any way reshape the U.S. fight to erase ISIS from existence?

Senator Ted Cruz says the United States needs a commander in chief who makes clear -- quote -- "If you join ISIS, if you wage jihad on America, then you are signing your own death warrant."

But how would the presidential candidate who proposed bombing ISIS back to the Stone Age handle this latest deadly turn in the fight against the terrorist group?

Here with me in Washington to talk about national security and much more, Republican presidential candidate and Senator from Texas Ted Cruz.

Senator, welcome back to THE LEAD.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Jake. Good to be with you.

TAPPER: So, if you were in the Oval Office, and this intelligence were confirmed -- and, obviously, it's not 100 percent right now.

CRUZ: Right.

TAPPER: But, if it were confirmed that...

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: ... this was an ISIS bomb that brought down the plane, what then? What would you do immediately?

CRUZ: Well, listen, this is an opportunity for the United States to focus Russia's energy on ISIS.

ISIS is the face of evil. And -- and if they're responsible for this horrific terrorist attack, that's all the more reason for a concerted effort and a concerted commitment to destroy them. I mean, if you look right now, part of the problem is, Putin, I think,

has taken the measure of the man in Barack Obama, and he doesn't respect him. And -- and it -- and it has limited -- once -- once Putin determines that Obama's not credible, that he won't do what he says...

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

CRUZ: ... that makes the prospect of our working together seriously to target ISIS a lot less plausible.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you then, if we were to go down that route as a nation and seek a greater alliance with Russia on fighting ISIS, which seems to be what you're suggesting,

[16:35:02] how would that affect American protests against Russian incursions into Ukraine?

Should those become secondary concerns because the truth of the matter is, ISIS poses more of a threat to us than Russia going into Ukraine?

CRUZ: Well, listen, you can do both.

And that's one of the things American foreign policy has long recognized, is that you can -- you can pursue more than one objective at one time. So, for example, when Russia invaded Ukraine, at the time, I called on President Obama to do two things, number one, to install the anti-ballistic missile batteries that had been scheduled to go into Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama and Secretary Clinton had canceled that in 2009, in an effort to appease Putin.

TAPPER: Right, during the reset.

CRUZ: Yes. And the appeasement didn't work.

That would have been a powerful statement of America standing with our allies. You know, I met with a number of conservative E.U. members who were in town yesterday. And we were talking about exactly this issue. And it was striking that, all across Europe, the members who were here were nodding and saying, that would have had a powerful impact on underscoring that America stands with our allies.

And then the second thing that we should have done at that time is, there were then 22 applications pending in the federal government to export liquid natural gas. President Obama should have held a national TV conference and said, "I'm approving every one of them right now, today."

Now, it would have taken some time for those to process through and flow out, but the effect of that would have threefold. Number one, it would have helped the people of Ukraine and Europe stand free from Putin's economic blackmail, that he uses energy to blackmail them.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm. CRUZ: Number two, it would have hit Putin where it hurts, in the

pocketbook. And, number three, it would have created jobs and economic growth here.

Now, that's an example where we can press back against Russian aggression. But doing that is not inconsistent, at the same time, when you have a malevolent force like ISIS, working with them where our interests coincide.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about ISIS, because you are not alone among Republican presidential candidates in suggesting that the solution is increased airstrikes in Syria and Iraq against ISIS targets and to arm the Kurds, the Peshmerga.

CRUZ: Right. Right.

TAPPER: But there are increasingly national security officials and military officials who say, that's just not going to be enough. More at least Western combat troops, if not U.S. combat troops, are going to be needed.

But you haven't been willing to go that far. Lindsey Graham says, the senator, Republican running for president as well, that if you're not going to be willing to put 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, 10,000 in Syria as part of a coalition, you're not serious about fighting ISIS.

CRUZ: Look, there are some politicians who like to support boots on the ground in every conflict across the globe in an effort to lean forward and show how tough they are.

I don't think this is a game of "Risk." I don't think it should be politicians moving armies about. I think it should be driven by the national security imperatives and the military needs on the ground. Right now, what we're doing is utterly ineffective. And I have spent a lot of time consulting with senior level military advisers, both active-duty military and retired generals, admirals.

TAPPER: Right. You're on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

CRUZ: And I believe our approach to ISIS should be twofold right now, number one, overwhelming airpower.

And it's worth underscoring, you know, in the first Persian Gulf War, we had about 1,100 air attacks a day. It was overwhelming. After 37 days, Saddam Hussein's army was crippled. And we mopped in there in 36 hours because of the impact of that overwhelming air attack. Right now, we're launching 15 to 30 air attacks.

TAPPER: Yes, it's a small number.

CRUZ: It's photo-op foreign policy.

And then the second piece, the Kurds are boots on the ground right now. They're fighting. They're effective fighters. They're loyal to us. They have been -- they have been strong allies. And ISIS is using U.S. military equipment that they seized in Iraq.

The Kurds are using outmoded equipment. And the Obama administration refuses to provide weaponry to the Kurds, because they think it would dismay Baghdad. I think that makes no sense.

TAPPER: It could also dismay the Turks.

But let's move on, because I do want -- I know you want to talk about your tax plan that you just unveiled.

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: You propose scrapping the tax code as it exists right now.

And it's a very detailed tax plan. People should go to your Web site to read it, but the headlines are...

CRUZ: Do you remember what the Web site is?

TAPPER:, I believe.

CRUZ: Dot-org, dot-org.

TAPPER: Dot-org. Apologies. Apologies.


TAPPER: Taxing individuals at one rate -- it's a flat tax, 10 percent.

CRUZ: Yes. Yes.

TAPPER: Businesses at one rate, 16 percent.

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: Now, the conservative "National Review" takes your -- takes issue with your business flat tax.

They say it will be -- quote -- "ultimately passed through to individuals in the form of lower wages, reduced dividends or higher prices."

I'm sure you think the "National Review" is wrong. Tell me why.

CRUZ: Well, actually, I think that was one columnist who wrote an article. I don't think it's the "National Review" as a whole.

But, you know, what I can tell you, if you look at the Tax Foundation, which is a nonpartisan organization that scores everybody's tax plans,

[16:40:06] they have concluded, of every Republican major presidential candidate on that stage, that my tax plan would generate the most jobs, 4.9 million new jobs, would produce booming economic growth, would increase capital investment by 44 percent. And for every income decile, from the very poorest to the very

richest, all of us would see double-digit increases in after-tax income of 14 percent or more.

Now, what does that mean? What does that mean for a single mom right now making $40,000 a year? It means she takes home an extra $5,600 each year after tax. That's real money to provide for her kids, to pay her bills, to make ends meet.

It is an aggressively pro-growth plan. And one of the great advantages of a single flat rate, 10 percent for everyone, is that it lets everyone fill out their taxes on a postcard, which enables us to abolish the IRS.

And -- and this simple flat tax means we also abolish the payroll tax. We abolish the corporate income tax. We abolish the death tax. We abolish the Alternative Minimum Tax. And we abolish the Obamacare taxes.

And that means you don't have Washington politicians picking winners and losers, deciding we're going to favor this group over the other group. You no longer have billionaire hedge fund managers paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. Everyone pays the same, 10 percent.

And on businesses...

TAPPER: Exempting the first $36,000, we should say, which is tax- free.

CRUZ: Right. Yes.

So, for a family of four, the first $36,000 you earn, you pay nothing.



CRUZ: And that's not only no income tax. That's no payroll tax, which is the biggest tax many Americans pay.

But if you look at businesses, right now, today, the corporate income tax, 35 percent, the highest in the developed world. Giant corporations have armies of lobbyists. They end up often paying little to no taxes. Small businesses get hammered.

My simple business flat tax, everyone pays 16 percent, treats them evenly, and you don't have government picking winners and losers.

TAPPER: Stay right there, Senator Cruz. We have got a lot more we want to talk about with you. We do have to pay some bills, though.

The Republican race, it's still pretty crowded. Reports say Senator Cruz thinks the nominating contest might come down to him and one other guy. Find out who coming up next.


[16:46:31] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

Did President George W. Bush's inner circle steer him in the wrong direction? If you ask his father, former President George H.W. Bush, that answer might be yes. In a new biography titled "Destiny and Power," Bush 41 blames Bush 43's help, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for serving the younger Bush poorly.

Of Rumsfeld, Bush writes him off as an arrogant fellow lacking humility. Of Cheney, Bush 41 called him an iron ass who divided the West Wing.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is here with me.

I know you're probably not willing or...


TAPPER: ... desirous of entering into Bush family politics, but you worked for the George W. Bush White House.

CRUZ: Right. Yes.

TAPPER: Does the father's estimation of how that White House worked bear any resemblance to what you have witnessed?

CRUZ: Oh, look, I will stay out of any fights between Bush 41 and Rumsfeld and Cheney. And they're all big boys who can take care of themselves.


TAPPER: All right.

CRUZ: You know, I will say something.

As you know, I met my wife, Heidi, on the Bush 2000 campaign. And we were one of eight marriages came out of that campaign, which -- something I tell young people, if you're looking to meet a spouse, come to a presidential campaign.


CRUZ: And it led to a lousy joke that I have told all over the state of Texas, which is, whatever anyone else thinks of George W. Bush, in our house, he will always be a uniter, and not a divider.


TAPPER: Let's -- let me -- let's stay on the family theme, but a slightly more serious one.

Jeb Bush has been talking about his daughter's struggles with addiction recently. It's a huge issue out there, especially in New Hampshire, where...

CRUZ: Yes. Yes.

TAPPER: ... you're campaigning a lot these days.

In your book, which I have read and I do recommend -- it's a great -- it's a great campaign book, one that you actually wrote -- you write rather movingly about your older sister Miriam...

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: ... her struggles with anger, and ultimately with drugs. And she died in 2011, after accidentally overdosing.

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: Did that experience teach you anything in terms of dealing with addiction as a society or as a representative of the government?

CRUZ: It's a horrible disease. And I have seen it firsthand.

I mean, my sister Miriam was 9 years older than I am, so I grew up with her. She was my half-sister from my dad's first marriage. And her parents got divorced when she was a little girl. And Miriam was always very angry about it. And it -- it consumed her.

And she was -- she was smart. She was beautiful. And yet, her whole life, she lived basically as an angry teenager. She was sort of frozen emotionally in a state of rebellion. And she -- she made decision after decision that was the wrong decision. And she struggled her whole life with drug and alcohol addiction.

She was in and out of prison for petty crimes, I mean, for shoplifting, for -- for little things. But she kept associating with people who were really bad actors.

And, you know, when I was in my mid-20s, things got really bad for Miriam. She actually -- she was living in a crack house.

TAPPER: In Philadelphia.

CRUZ: Yes.

And so my dad flew up to see me, and the two of us, we left our rings and our watches and our wallets and everything, because we were driving to a crack house to try to get my sister out. And, you know, we didn't know if we'd be robbed or shot or what -- what we were going to experience.

And we pulled her out. We went to a Denny's and spent about four hours trying to talk to her, saying, Miriam, what are you doing? And she was just angry. She wouldn't change.

And you can't -- with an addict, you can't make them change if they're unwilling to get treatment, if they're unwilling to walk a different path. And, you know, Miriam had a son, my nephew Joey, who was going into seventh grade at the time. And we're saying, "Miriam, look, Joey needs you."

She wasn't able to provide for him, so I had just gotten out of law school. I ended up putting a $20,000 cash advance on my credit card and paying to put Joey in a military school, Valley Forge Military Academy.

And I think that year made a real difference in his life, providing some structure and some order. And then, by the end of the year, she had improved somewhat and was able to care for her son again.

But then, as you noted, she...


CRUZ: ... a few years ago overdosed one night. And Joey came to the apartment and -- and found her dead.

TAPPER: That's a horrible story. And our -- my deepest condolences.

CRUZ: Yes.

TAPPER: I -- it's awkward to turn to politics, but I have to for a second, which is, you have said privately, according to press reports, that you think, ultimately, this race is going to come down to you and Senator Rubio.

Senator Rubio unveiling three endorsements this week from freshmen Republicans in the Senate. If it does come down to you vs. Rubio, why you? What's your argument for you?

CRUZ: Well, listen, I'm not sure it will come down to Marco and me.

I like Marco. I respect him. He's a friend of mine. He's a great guy. There are a lot of political observers that are saying that, and I think that's certainly a plausible outcome.

You know, as I look at the race, historically, there have been two major lanes in the Republican primary. There's been a moderate lane and a conservative lane. And, in past cycles, there's been a consensus moderate choice early on. All the money gets behind them.

And conservatives, we fight like cats and dogs. There are a ton of us. Nobody has any money. And that's how the moderate wins the nomination, and then goes on to lose the general.

And one of the things I'm very encouraged by is, in this cycle, that's -- that's flipped. It's inverted. The moderate lane is crowded as all get out. You have got four or five candidates that are slugging it out who I think will spend millions trying to take each other out.

TAPPER: Kasich and Jeb and, yes, Christie and -- yes.

CRUZ: And I don't know who comes out of that lane.

Look, I think Marco is certainly formidable in that lane. I think the Jeb campaign seems to view Marco as his biggest threat in the moderate lane. And so I think they're going to slug it out for a while.

But, when you look at the conservative lane, what I'm really encouraged by is that conservatives are consolidating behind our campaign, so that the two candidates that have dropped out, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, both very good men, strong governors, both were competing primarily in the conservative lane.

TAPPER: Mm-hmm.

CRUZ: Other candidates that were expected to be formidable in that lane have not been getting significant traction.

And so I'm very encouraged that I think, every day, more and more conservatives are uniting behind our campaign. And once it gets down to a head-to-head contest between a conservative and a moderate...


CRUZ: ... I think the conservative wins.

If you look at Republican primaries, conservatives outnumber moderates 3-1 right now. And so if we get head-to-head, I'm very confident that we're in a position to win the race.

TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, you are speaking at a conference this weekend, the National Religious Liberties Conference in Des Moines. It's organized by a guy named Kevin Swanson. You have been very outspoken about what you deem liberal intolerance of Christians.

But Kevin Swanson has said some very inflammatory things about gays and lesbians. He believes Christians should hold up signs at gay weddings holding up the Leviticus verse, instructing the faithful the put gays to death because what they do is an abomination.

I don't hold you responsible for what other people say, but, given your concern about liberal intolerance, are you not in some ways endorsing conservative intolerance?

CRUZ: Listen, I don't know what this gentleman has said and what he hasn't said.

I know that, when it comes to religious liberty, this is a passion of mine that has been a passion of mine for decades, and that I have been fighting for religious liberty for everyone, fighting for religious liberty for Christians, for Jews, for Muslims, for every one of us to practice our faith.

And in the last six-and-a-half years, under the Obama administration, we have seen an assault on religious liberty from the federal government. You know, a couple months ago, I hosted a rally for religious liberty in Iowa. We had 2,500 people come out. It was the single biggest political event in the state of Iowa this year.

And we had nine heroes, people who had stood up for their faith, who just told their stories. And it was powerful. You can go and watch those stories on our Web site, And, you know, the amazing thing is -- I mean, listen, many in the

media diminish threats on religious liberty. They say they're not real. What I tried to do in that event was withdraw myself and have the focus be on them, telling their stories.

[16:55:03] TAPPER: I know you have got to catch a flight, so I'm -- I'm getting the hook now.


TAPPER: Senator Ted Cruz, thank you so much for stopping by. Good luck to you. We will see you out there on the campaign trail.

CRUZ: Thank you, Jake.

Coming up, a new twist in the case of the police officer who killed himself and made it look like murder, what did his wife know of his illegal activities? That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our National Lead now, investigators say Illinois Police Lieutenant Joe Gliniewicz had been embezzling money for years before committing what they say is an elaborately staged suicide in September designed to look like murder.

Today the attention is turning to his family. Messages uncovered from Gliniewicz's phone revealed that his wife may have been part of his embezzlement scheme all along. She is listed as an advisor to the same police program from which officials say her husband was stealing.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning you over now to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.