Several Republicans have become concerned recently about the possibility of intensified intra-party fighting over the effort to defund Obamacare. The topic came up Wednesday when GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a leader in the defunding effort, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s radio program. At about 6:30 in the interview, Ingraham asked Cruz about the phrase “surrender caucus” that some have used to describe the Republicans who oppose the defunding effort. Cruz told Ingraham that he has never used the phrase himself to describe his opponents in the defunding debate. Cruz explained that his chief of staff, Chip Roy, did use the phrase, but did it on his own without Cruz’s knowledge.
“Let’s be clear on the intra-party fight: I have not said an ill word about any of my colleagues,” said Cruz.
“Well, the ‘surrender caucus,’” said Ingraham. “What’s the ‘surrender caucus’? That’s pretty nasty.”
“I did not say that about anybody,” said Cruz. “And I have not said an ill word — ”
“That’s your chief of staff. He’s speaking as your proxy, is he not?” asked Ingraham.
“No, he actually was not,” said Cruz. “He did that on his own, and I didn’t know about it. And I don’t agree with that. And I have not said an ill word about any of my colleagues. They have said some pretty nasty language about me, but my approach is not to reciprocate and I don’t intend to.”
Cruz could not have been clearer: He did not use “surrender caucus” to describe Republican opponents in the defunding debate. But go back just a few days, to July 25, when Cruz appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio program. In that interview, at about 8:00, Cruz lamented what he said was the tendency of some Republicans to avoid a fight on key issues.
“I am perpetually frustrated by what seems to be the surrender caucus in the Congress,” Cruz said, “the group that just want us to give in and who say, well, President Obama will never give in on his top priority. Well, why is it that he gets to hold his principles, and it’s assumed that we have to roll over, when the American people are with us?”
So it appears that despite what he said in his interview with Ingraham, Cruz himself, and not just his chief of staff, has used “surrender caucus” to describe fellow Republicans.
UPDATE: After this post appeared, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier called to say that Cruz has “never directly criticized one of his colleagues in that manner. He has deep respect for all of his colleagues in the Senate, regardless of their personal views, and when he was speaking earlier this morning, his point was that he has never used that term directly toward any of his colleagues — nor would he ever.”