‘Proud wacko bird’ Ted Cruz calls Obama biggest obstacle to immigration reform

Jeff Zeleny, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
‘Proud wacko bird’ Ted Cruz calls Obama biggest obstacle to immigration reform

The Fine Print

As the immigration debate begins before the full Senate for the first time, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has become one of the most vocal opponents to the current bill. But Cruz says the true obstacle to immigration reform is not him, but President Obama.

“The biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama,” Cruz tells The Fine Print, going on to say that the White House’s “insistence” on including a path to citizenship is standing in the way of the bill’s ultimate passage.

“The path the White House is going down, I believe, is designed for this bill to fail,” Cruz says. “It is designed for it to sail through the Senate and then crash in the House to let the president go and campaign in 2014 on this issue.”

Over his six-month run in the Senate, Cruz has developed a reputation for not toeing the line with party leadership, and has even been called a “wacko bird” by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Though Cruz says he’s not sure exactly what a “wacko bird” is, he’s not rejecting the name outright.

“If standing for liberty, if standing for free market principle and the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then, then I am a very proud wacko bird,” Cruz says.

Underscoring his hard-line approach, Cruz says he won’t compromise on his stance against a path to citizenship despite calls from many Republicans that passing an immigration reform package is necessary for the party’s success in the 2014 and 2016 elections

“Leadership in both parties is what has gotten us in this mess, and I think we ought to be doing our job and standing for principle regardless of the politics,” he says.

When asked if he has ruled out the possibility of leading a filibuster against the immigration bill this week, Cruz did not directly answer the question, except to say that “there are going to be lots of efforts to change, to amend, and to improve this bill.”

For more of the interview with Sen. Cruz, and to hear what he says was the most surprising thing when he came to the Senate, check out this episode of The Fine Print.

ABC's Eric Wray, Sunlen Miller, Freda Kahen Kashi, Betsy Klein, Melissa Young, and David Girard contributed to this episode.