(DES MOINES, Iowa) — In an interview for This Week with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz dismissed talk of a potential 2016 White House bid, along with the question of whether he is ready to run for the highest office in the land after having been a senator less than a year.
“We are having a national debate about which direction the country should go…and what I am doing now is trying to participate in that national debate,” Cruz said Friday while in Iowa, a state frequented by those with White House ambitions. “I’m not focused on the politics…the last office I was elected to was student council. So this has been a bit of a whirlwind.”
Karl asked Cruz about his eligibility for the White House, which has been questioned given that he was born in Canada.
“My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen,” Cruz said.
“I’m not going to engage in a legal debate. The facts are clear,” he added. “I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were. And then as a legal matter, others can worry about that. I’m not going to engage.”
Cruz has established himself as a staunch opponent of immigration reform that includes a so-called “pathway to citizenship,” for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, which is a key component of the immigration bill fellow Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — a potential 2016 presidential primary opponent for Cruz — helped push through the Senate.
Cruz, who said that Rubio ”proceeded in good faith” in his efforts to advance immigration reform, nonetheless said he thought including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is unfair to those had have immigrated to the United States legally.
“I think a path to citizenship for those who are here illegally is profoundly unfair to the millions of legal immigrants who followed the rules,” Cruz said, adding that he does not think a bill with such a path can pass the House of Representatives.
During the interview with Karl, Cruz criticized President Obama for trying to advance gun control measures following the December massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut that left 20 children dead.
“I think he had a political agenda, which was to restrict the second amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding citizens… They took advantage of that horrible, tragic shooting to push that agenda. And they didn’t focus actually on solving the problem,” Cruz said.
“I think the policies he was advancing were wrong and were dangerous,” he added. “And the point that I was finishing is I admire and respect him in that he fights for his principles, but I think his principles are profoundly dangerous.”
Karl also asked Cruz about arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court at age 32.
“Scalia, Ginsberg, the chief — it was 30 minutes of getting pounded. It was like a head of tuna being thrown to a school of sharks.” Cruz said.
“I will tell you, I have always liked the fact that I sit in my office and I look at a giant painting of me getting my tail whipped 9-0. And it is very good for instilling humility to look and see, ‘ok, that’s what it looks like to lose.’”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN