Firebrand conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, expressed no regrets over his role in this fall's government shutdown today in an exclusive interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl for "This Week," placing the blame for the 16-day closure squarely on the shoulders of Democratic leaders.
"I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown," the freshman senator said when asked if pushing the strategy linking funding the government to the funding of Obamacare was a mistake.
When reminded by Karl that even Republican House Speaker John Boehner took conservative groups to task for pushing a faulty strategy, Cruz said "I can't help what other people say."
Cruz did find a receptive audience for his shutdown strategy among House conservatives, whom he secretly strategized with during the shutdown at the Capitol Hill Mexican restaurant Tortilla Coast. He joined Karl there to discuss his first year in Congress after being named a 2013 "This Week" game changer.
"The conservatives who met here at Tortilla Coast, who met repeatedly and continue to have conversations, what we're trying to do is listen to the American people, listen to those over two million people who were saying, this thing ain't working," Cruz told ABC News.
Cruz has raised the ire of both Democrats and Republicans - he was famously called a "wacko bird" by Sen. John McCain of Arizona - during his first year, but he insisted that his focus was not on being liked in Washington.
"What I want to do is to serve 26 million Texans, I want to do my job. That's really my focus," Cruz said. "Nobody should be surprised, if you're trying to change Washington that the Washington establishment pushes back."
Cruz described being on the list of runner-ups for Time magazine's Person of the Year (the honor went to Pope Francis, another "This Week" game changer) as a "very strange thing." He was also asked by Karl about a new coloring book that features the Texas senator, another sign of his rising profile.
"If ever there were a sign that the world is a crazy place, that is it," Cruz said of the book, currently the top-selling coloring book on Amazon.com. Cruz added that, contrary to an assertion made in the book that millions of people think Obamacare is worse than any war, the president's signature legislation is "of course" not worse in his view.