Jan. 18, 2016 3:27am Oliver Darcy
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz was grilled Sunday morning by Fox News host Chris Wallace over his flipped vote on crop insurance.
“One final question, and as I say we’re just running out of time, you condemn the Washington cartel, which you call the lobbyists and career politicians who rig the game. I want to ask you about one of your recent acts as a senator,” Wallace said before playing video of Cruz switching his vote in a matter of minutes.
“Senator, isn’t that exactly the kind of game that the Washington cartel plays?” Wallace asked.
Cruz said that he thought he was voting on another issue because the Senate had “flipped the order of votes.”
“I went up initially voting one way, believing we were voting on cloture on the issue, on the Export/Import Bank, and when I voted that way, [Sen.] Pat Roberts made a comment about crop insurance, and I was puzzled, because what I had believed I was voting on concerns the Import/Export Bank, not crop insurance. And I went back to the team and said what went wrong? And the team apologized and said they switched the vote,” Cruz said.
Wallace challenged the Texas senator’s claim, noting Roberts’ version of events seemed to be in dispute of it. According to Roberts, he spoke to Cruz on the floor and advised him that his vote against the $3 billion dollar program would hurt him with Iowa voters who have a powerful agricultural lobby.
“Pat Roberts … chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says that’s not the way it happened,” Wallace said, “he came up and tried to get you to change your vote, and explains and specifically said this will hurt you in Iowa. That’s what he says.”
Cruz brushed off the claim and recited again his version of events.
“Pat said it was about crop insurance and I was completely puzzled, because my staff briefing had said the order of votes — and you often have a bunch of votes in the Senate and they change the votes sometimes. And so, my staff had gotten it wrong, they briefed me on the wrong report,” Cruz said.
Wallace continued to press him.
“You’re saying you didn’t change your mind?” he asked.
“I didn’t change my mind,” Cruz replied. “And we said that immediately. This is one of the sort of political games people play, where we said immediately, ‘Look, it was a mistake on our part, we misunderstood the order of the votes.’”
The line of questioning from Wallace came after 2016 rival Marco Rubio brought the issue up during the last GOP debate. As the two candidates faced off, Rubio contended the vote was just one example that proved Cruz doesn’t have a record of “consistent conservative.”