Ted Cruz's appearance at Politico's Playbook Breakfast on Thursday morning was both fascinating and a little silly. Cruz was vague on his presidential intentions, but direct in his criticisms of Washington and the mainstream media. If you were looking for a nuanced look at foreign and domestic politics, this wasn't it. In a sense, it was a chance for Cruz to further his image among his supporters as the most principled man in Washington. "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."
But, if you just found yourself wondering what Ted Cruz's response to the State of the Union might have been, this was it, with a lot of word association. Mike Allen asked Cruz about things he does like (making D.C. listen, the grassroots movement to help conservatives reclaim the Senate) and things he doesn't like (Cruz called President Obama "imperial" and Vice President Joe Biden "Crazy Uncle Joe"). Here's how Ted sees things.
Hot: Rand Paul
Despite Allen's best efforts, Cruz managed not to say anything mean about any of his Republican colleagues. He and Paul are friends, though Cruz noted that Paul was campaigning for Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
Not: The rest of the Senate
"In many ways the Senate is like a junior high lunchroom," Cruz said, referring to how unpopular he's become in his efforts to make D.C. listen. He noted that many senators have said "nasty" things about him and leak negative stories to the press:
Hot: Chris Christie
Allen asked Cruz to describe several politicians and 2016 hopefuls in one word. Christie is "brash," but in a good way. And bridgegate was silly.
Not: Hillary Clinton
Hot: Candy Crush
Cruz said he loves video games. We're not sure Candy Crush counts as a video game, but he's on level 217.
What's not cool is our foreign policy, much of which he blames on Hillary Clinton. Iran could nuke Tel Aviv, New York City or Los Angeles at any moment, he said.
Hot: House of Cards
Cruz has watched both seasons.
Not: Comparing House of Cards to D.C.
When asked about the how D.C. is different from the show, he said "I really try to refrain from having people murdered in politics."
Hot: Michelle Malkin's Twitter feed
It's his favorite and has "some real verve."
Not: Mean liberal tweets
"Every nasty leftwing Tweet wishing misery on me, I read," Cruz said, though we find that hard to believe. In all seriousness, there are probably too many.
Hot: Keeping the FCC out of newsrooms
Calling the recently cancelled (and still controversial) newsroom survey proposed by the Federal Communications Commission newsroom monitoring isn't completely accurate, but Cruz did it anyway. "The media was remarkably docile," he added. If a Republican had suggested it, he said, media people would have set themselves on fire.
Not: The way the media portrays the Tea Party
He said conservatives are portrayed as "stupid," "evil," or "crazy."
Hot: Mitch McConnell
By virtue of the fact that Cruz didn't say anything mean about Senate minority leader, despite encouragement, McConnell is hot. Cruz even called him a "leader," though that was a factual statement, and not necessarily an opinion:
Mike Allen: "Mitch McConnell?" Ted Cruz: "Leader. That's what's stenciled on his door". #PLAYBOOKBREAKFAST— Noah Wehrman (@NoahWehrman) February 27, 2014
Not: Meddling in Establishment Republican elections
When asked if he'd vote for Sen. John Cornyn, the other senator from Texas, over Rep. Steve Stockman, he said that was between him and the ballot box. "I'm likely going to stay out of incumbent Republican primaries," he added, but that's not a promise.
Hot: The Ted Cruz inspired coloring book
The coloring book is "bizarre," but "I went on Amazon, I bought two of the coloring books," he said. One for each of his daughters.
Not: The Ted Cruz inspired shutdown
Allen asked Cruz if he would shut down the government again. "I didn't do it the first time," he said.