'This Week': Sen. Ted Cruz

ABC News' Jonathan Karl goes one-on-one with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz at the 2014 CPAC conference.
3:00 | 03/09/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Sen. Ted Cruz
To find out how, visit pacificlife.com. Conservative all-stars headlining this week's CPAC convention where a big question seems to be what will it take for the gop to unite? Some key stars looking to take the party in different directions, including the top two finishers in Saturday's straw poll. Rand Paul and our next guest, Ted Cruz, who in less than two years shot from obscurity to republican star. Here's Jon Karl. Reporter: The conservative political action conference, CPAC, like woodstock for right wingers. ? three days of music and tough talk. The president of the united States is treating our constitution worse than a place mat at Denny's. It's the biggest gathering of possible republican presidential candidates. The policies they pursue have never worked. And they work less now than ever before. If that is strategy, Mr. President, what are we paying you for? I believe what you do on your cell phone is none of their damn business. Reporter: Cpac brings together the right and far right. Libertarians, gun enthusiasts, tea partiers. The woman running this booth has a new favorite, Ted Cruz. Even if it's going to hurt him politically, he will stand behind his principles. He's a man of principles. Reporter: How's it going? We caught up with senator Cruz at CPAC. He was a virtual unknown just a year ago. Not anymore. The affordable care act that will destroy -- Reporter: Cruz led the fight over obamacare that shut the government down last fall. More recently, Russia's invasion of Ukraine opened up a new line of attack for Cruz against president Obama. A critical reason for Putin's aggression has been president Obama's weakness. That Putin fears no retribution. Their policy has been to alienate and abandon our friends and coddle and appease our enemies. You better believe that Putin sees in benghazi, four Americans are murdered and nothing happen S. No retribution. You better believe that Putin sees that in Syria, Obama draws a red line and ignores it. Reporter: How would you stand up? What would you do? Military action? Not at all. Reporter: Sanctions? Would you do sanctions? Absolutely yes. There are a host of things we can do. Let's rewind the clock a little bit. Number one, don't demonstrate weakness for five years. We have seen historically over and over again tyrants respond to weakness. Reporter: Let's not forget that they invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. Obama didn't invent Putin's aggression. When Mitt Romney talked about Putin expanding his sphere of influence, Obama maced him, the cold war has been over 20 years, there's nothing to worry about. We keep making that mistake with Putin. Putin is a kgb thug. When the protests began, the president should have stood for freedom. When the United States doesn't speak for freedom, tyrants notice. Reporter: His approach stands in stark contrast with fellow tea partier Rand Paul. Just days before Putin invaded crimea, Paul said we need a respectful, sometimes adversarial, but respectful relationship with Russia. Senator Rand Paul said some are so stuck not cold war era they would to tweak Russia all the time and I don't think that's a good idea. What's you're reaction? I'm a big fan of Rand Paul. We are good friends. I don't agree with him on foreign policy. U.s. Leadership is critical in the world. I agree we should be reluctant to deploy military force aboard. But there's a vital role, just as Ronald Reagan did. When Ronald Reagan called the soviet union an evil empire, when he stood in front of the brandonberg gate and said tear down this wall. Those words changed the course of history. The United States has a responsibility to defend our values. Reporter: Senator Paul agreed to be interviewed to give his perspective. At the last minute he backed out. And on stage, Cruz blasted fellow republicans he sees as wishy-washy. Including three of the biggest gop names over the last decade. All of us remember president dole, and president McCain and president Romney. They're good men, decent men, but when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, democrats celebrate. Reporter: Once again, the old guard fired back. I wonder if he thinks that bob dole stood for principle on that hilltop in Italy when he was so gravely wounded. Reporter: But upsetting well-established republicans is precisely how Cruz quickly became one of the right ea's biggest, most controversial stars. He's unfazed by the return fire he's taking from those who say he's hurting the party with the no compromise politics. The Wall Street journal said you are a minority maker. And I took heat for saying you at the Tuesday lunch, he's going to need a food taster. You have become a folk hero in Texas. We went back. I had multiple gatherings, and people came up and actually asked if they could serve as the food taster. Reporter: If republicans win back the senate, he vows to push harder. You had a very big applause line out here, you said we will repeal -- Every single word of obamacare. Reporter: We can acknowledge that's not going to happen while Barack Obama is president, right? I'll give you one scenario where it could, if there's one things that unifies politicians of both parties, it's preserving their own hide. If enough congressional democrats realize they either stand with obamacare and lose or listen to the American people and have a chance of staying in office, that's the one scenario we could do it in 2015. If not, we'll do it in 2017. Reporter: You honestly think there's a chance you can get obamacare repealed? Every word, as you say? Every word. With Obama in the white house. The media treats that as a bizarre proposition. Reporter: It is a bizarre proposition. It is the most unpopular law in the country. Millions of people lost their jobs, health care, forced into part-time work, have their premiums skyrocketing. And Washington isn't listening. That's how we win elections and repeal obamacare. Reporter: In other words, expect an even feistier Ted Cruz if republicans win big in the fall.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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