Ted Cruz was asked about the prospect of Rep. Paul Ryan as the next speaker of the House during a segment of Meet the Press on Sunday. The senator was specifically asked if Ryan was a “true conservative,” and Cruz dodged a direct answer. “Oh, listen. I like Paul Ryan. He’s a friend of mine,” Cruz said. “This is obviously a question that is wrapped up in the speaker of the House—deliberations. I have said consistently I’m gonna stay out of that.” He later reiterated that radio host Mark Levin was a “true conservative,” after suggesting that he should be the next House speaker. “I have said consistently throughout that the question of House leadership is a question for the House Republican conference,” Cruz said when pressed on the issue. “And so I’m not gonna stick my nose into it as much as people want me to.” Moderator Chuck Todd criticized Cruz for saying he often meets with House Republicans and for claiming he stays out of their business. Cruz also lambasted the Republican leadership as essentially being Democrats. “The truth of the matter is Republican leadership are the most effective Democrat leaders we’ve ever seen,” Cruz said. “They’ve passed more Democratic priorities than Harry Reid ever could.” Cruz and Ryan have been linked in the past, collaborating on an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal earlier this year arguing for Congress to establish trade-promotion authority.
Cruz also weighed in on Russia and its involvement in Syria, after writing an op-ed over a week ago urging a pushback against President Vladimir Putin’s aggression. The senator told Todd that ISIS should be prioritized over taking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power yet also said he wouldn’t work with Russia in order to make that possible. “Of course, we shouldn’t be partnering with the Russians,” Cruz said. “Look, this is a great example of the utter failure of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy. This void in power has let Putin step in there. There’re a couple hundred Cubans right now with a major Cuban general fighting in the Syrian civil war. You’ve got Iran. You’ve got General Suleimani in bed with the Russians. So you now got Russia, Cuba, and Iran all arm in arm. And anyone who believes Russia is fighting against terrorism, I got a bridge to sell ’em.”