Late Night with Ted Cruz

“People describe you as arrogant, aggressive and abrasive.”

That’s how Jay Leno began his Tonight Show interview recently with Texas’ junior U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.

I looked back at how Leno opened his last late-night interview with President Obama on August 7 of this year.

“Happy birthday, Mr. President!”

The president described his party with long-time friends, the golf and basketball they played. Keeping the sports theme, Leno lofted softball questions on embassy safety and international travel warnings.

By contrast, Cruz had to dig himself out of a hole he hadn’t dug. “I’m just trying to do my job,” Cruz began. “To have a chance to stand up and fight to try to turn this country around, I feel incredibly privileged.”

In backhanded fashion, Leno complimented Cruz on having principle only to question whether it keeps him from compromising.

Cruz quoted Reagan: ‘What do you do if they offer you half a loaf? You take it and go back and ask for more.’”

Predicting Reagan would join the conversation, Leno was ready: “I don’t think Reagan could get in the Tea Party today.”

Cruz was ready, too. He offered the amateur political commentator a history of Reagan’s rise.

“Reagan challenged an incumbent Republican president in the 1976 primary. He led a grassroots revolution during a time of economic stagnation when the policies of Jimmy Carter weren’t working. We face similar circumstances today.”

Citing low Congressional approval, Leno suggested Americans are sick of political brinkmanship. Cruz didn’t disagree but called the real divide between entrenched politicians and the American people, not between Democrats and Republicans.

Leno: “You’re set in your ways. Are you not an entrenched politician, Senator?”

Cruz: “What I’m entrenched about is fighting for 26 million Texans who tell me what they care about is jobs and economic growth. What we have in Washington is career politicians who want more spending and taxes and regulation.”

Cruz continued, “The rich do great with big government. Big business does great with big government. The people who get hurt are the small businesses and workers.”

Leno claimed to “get that” and tried another hot box. “If your priority is jobs, why so much focus on social issues?”

Cruz didn’t take the bait. He said his focus has stayed on jobs and economic growth, particularly Obamacare, “the #1 job killer.”

When Cruz brought up people’s cancelled insurance policies, Leno tried to balance the scales: “You don’t want Obamacare but 25% of your state doesn’t have health insurance so Obamacare would help them, wouldn’t it?”

Cruz answered, cleverly, not pompously, “Not if it costs them their jobs.”

When Leno pushed on gay marriage, Cruz said marriage should be between a man and a woman but supported each state’s right to decide.

Throughout, Cruz calmly turned Leno’s biases into bases for sound argument. Even under bright Hollywood lights, Cruz seemed like the same guy I dined with in a Texas hill country vistro a few years ago.

Texans are fortunate to have an intelligent, articulate and passionate politician representing them on the east – and left – coasts.

Kevin Thompson is an opinion columnist in the Texas hill country. Follow him at

6 Responses to “Late Night with Ted Cruz”

  1. 1 mrdonnigeria November 20, 2013 at 00:23

    Hey tell us about your Cruz meeting. I leave in two weeks to Nigeria with a cancer surgeon

    Love you



  2. 2 Bennye Waskom November 20, 2013 at 00:33

    Kevin, I could not agree with you more. I was very proud of Senator Cruz. I , too remember that night in the vistro. I knew then he was very, very special. Thankfully, Washington has not ruined him. “Just doing my job”, What a concept!

  3. 4 Tunisia Singleton November 20, 2013 at 09:13

    Thanks for recounting this Kevin, Ted Cruz is a breath of fresh air. Look forward to seeing him “rise”.

  4. 5 Cindy Brockwell November 20, 2013 at 10:18

    Thanks, Kevin, for sharing this in print. I don’t watch Jay Leno, so I missed this interview. I, too, was impressed at the meeting where he spoke in Boerne, and I have continued to be impressed with Senator Cruz since his election. He’s really representing Texas as he promised.

  5. 6 jessestroup November 20, 2013 at 17:08

     Kevin,  way to feature, sounds thinking and principles rather than emotional hot buttons that divides people even more and sell TV products.  So you ate with Cruz and you like him? Does junior senator mean that he is serving his second term of office? Looking forward to being with you and your family very soon. Jesse

      Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 511 N. Akard suite 202 Dallas, TX 75201

Comments are currently closed.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 209 other followers


%d bloggers like this: