CRUZ: You know, if standing for liberty, if standing for free market principles and the constitution makes you a wacko bird, then I am a very proud wacko bird.
KARL: A supporter even made a wacko bird hat that Cruz proudly displays in his office.
There was a brief moment early on when Cruz, after Obama met with senate Republicans, talked of working with the president.
CRUZ: I welcome the president coming to Capitol Hill to meet with us. I look forward to doing everything I can to work productively, for us to roll up our sleeves and get the economy growing again.
KARL: That didn't last long as Cruz laid out the gold that would turn Washington upside-down, defunding Obamacare before agreeing to fund the government.
At first, Republican leaders rejected the idea.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: Our goal here is to cut spending, it's not to shut down the government.
KARL: But Cruz refused to go along with the Republican leadership. He gave an all day, all night speech, the second longest in the history of the senate.
CRUZ: I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.
This grand experiment three-and-a-half years ago is quite simply not working.
KARL: He went on for more than 21 hours without sitting or even taking a bathroom break, filling time in some creative ways.
CRUZ: Mike Lee, I am your father.
Jay said redneck rule number one, most things can be fixed with duct tape and extension cords. That's actually very true.
I don't like them Sam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham.
KARL: The speech made Cruz a national figure, a rallying point for those who agreed with him and those who didn't, giving plenty of material for late-night comedians.
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW: In the land of D.C., in the Senate of snooze, lived the showboatiest blab whose name was Ted Cruz.
KARL: Cruz found his most receptive audience among House conservatives, meeting secretly one night in the middle of the government shutdown with Tea Partiers in a Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill called at Tortilla Coast.
You had a famous meeting right here in this restaurant. What was that like meeting with those House Republicans? They, in a way, were looking to you as a leader.
CRUZ: Well, we had lots of meetings throughout the year and throughout the shutdown as well. And nobody should be surprised that members of congress are talking to each other. It doesn't happen nearly enough.
KARL: But it's rare to see a senator to have the kind of influence that you had, especially a freshman senator, a first-year senator, over the House.
CRUZ: Well, with respect, I actually don't think it was a case of my having influence at all. I think it's a case of the American people having influence.
KARL: Right, but this was a strategy that you were putting forth and they jumped on board. CRUZ: Well, no, this is something that a lot of people came forward and agreed with. And at the end of the day, the conservatives who met here at Tortilla Coast, who met repeatedly and continue to have conversations, what we were trying to do is listen to the American people, listen to those over 2 million people who are saying this thing ain't working.
KARL: The House Republicans went along with the Cruz strategy and the government shut down for 16 days, a move widely seen as a political disaster for Republicans that accomplished nothing.
But the day Republicans caved and congress voted to reopen the government, Cruz declared victory.