In an interview published Wednesday by the Washington Post, anti-tax activist and Republican powerbroker Grover Norquist laid into Ted Cruz, saying the Texas senator “pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.”
Speaking with the Post’s Ezra Klein, Norquist argued that Cruz “confused people” when he insisted that a vote to fund the government that didn’t also defund Obamacare was effectively a vote for Obamacare:
There’s unanimity among Republicans. They all voted against [Obamacare] being created and for it being repealed.
The only confusion that comes out is that Cruz stood on the side and confused people about the fact that every Republican agrees [on Obamacare]. He said if you don’t agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you’re bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don’t have the votes over here. And I can’t find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn’t deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.
While Norquist is far from the first conservative to take a public swipe at Cruz, he may be the most influential. His Americans for Tax Reform organization is a major player in rightwing politics, and signing its “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” has long been a near-necessity for any Republican running for office.