On Friday’s broadcast of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” host Jay Leno conducted a challenging but cordial interview with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, in which Cruz compared his tea party struggles to Ronald Reagan’s in the late 1970s.
Cruz defended his strategies in his short tenure in Congress that have made him a household name for many Americans, likening his actions to what former President Ronald Reagan did in the 1970s before he was elected president.
“If you look at what Reagan did — Reagan led a grassroots revolution. I think where we are today is an awful lot like the late 1970s, where we had economic stagnation. We had people hurting because the government policies under Jimmy Carter — they weren’t working. Remember, Reagan challenged an incumbent Republican President in 1976 in a primary. And there was a grassroots revolution where he said, “listen, this isn’t working. Let’s get back to free market principles. Back to the Constitution. Because economic growth — people want jobs. They want opportunity, and what we’re doing isn’t working. That same thing’s true right now, Jay.”
Leno argued Americans are tired of gridlock and perhaps the country would be in a better position if there were more willingness to compromise in the nation’s capital.
“Well, look, what I’m entrenched about is fighting for 26 million Texans,” Cruz said. “I mean, I’ve spent — in the ten months I’ve been in office, we’ve done over 75 events all over the state. And I try to go back and listen to Texans. And wherever you go in the state, what you hear from Texans — they say, ‘our top priority is bringing back jobs and economic growth.’ And so my focus every day, my number-one priority in office is bringing back jobs and economic growth. What we’re doing right now isn’t working. And you’ve got too many career politicians in Washington that want to just keep going down this road of more and more spending and taxes and regulation. And you know, Jay, the people that are getting hurt are young people. They’re Hispanic. They’re African Americans. They’re single moms. They’re people who are struggling.”
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Cruz also explained that the lack of growth has been harmful not because it hurts the rich, but because it hurts the poor and middle class.
“That’s the problem. A little growth — the people who get hurt, it’s not the millionaires and billionaires,” Cruz said. “The top 1 percent have a higher share of our income that at any time since 1928. The people who get hurt are those who are struggling. I think of it from the perspective of my dad. Fifty-five years ago, my dad came from Cuba. He’d been imprisoned. He’d been tortured. And he was washing dishes. He made 50 cents an hour. Those are the people that are getting hurt. It’s the immigrants. It’s the young people. Economists are calling this generation of young people a lost generation because they’re coming out without jobs, without growth, and we’ve got to get back to an environment.”