What the heck is Ted Cruz doing in Iowa?

Jonathan Karl & Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
What the heck is Ted Cruz doing in Iowa?

Politics Confidential

Sen. Ted Cruz had never won an election before Texans elected him to the Senate last year, but already the Republican’s travel schedule looks more like that of a presidential candidate than one for a freshman lawmaker, with stops in key battleground states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Florida.

Politics Confidential joined Cruz on a recent trip to Iowa — his first visit to the state, in fact— where he insisted that he isn’t looking ahead to the next presidential election in 2016.

“The politics of it, I'm not going to focus on right now,” Cruz said.

Cruz said the reason behind his busy travel schedule is to argue in favor of “constitutional liberties” and “free-market principles” around the country.

“I am working very hard to win the argument, to make the argument to the American people that we need to change course, that the direction this country is on isn't working,” Cruz said.

Cruz has established himself as an uncompromising conservative voice on Capitol Hill, taking traditional Republican stances on hot button political issues.

He said the Supreme Court’s decisions earlier this year that favored gay marriage were an “unfortunate” display of judicial overreach.

“The touchstone for me on every issue is the Constitution, and I think it is absolutely clear that the Constitution does not undermine traditional marriage,” Cruz said. “And I think it's only judicial activism that has opened the door for those attacks on marriage.”

On abortion, Cruz described himself as “strongly pro-life” but did not directly answer a question about whether he would support a federal law banning abortions.

“I think we need to defend life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” he said.

One controversy surrounding a potential Cruz presidential bid is his eligibility.

So-called "birthers" argued that Barack Obama was ineligible to be president, because they incorrectly asserted that he was not born in the United States and did not meet the Constitutional requirement for a president to be a "natural born” citizen.

Cruz was born in Canada, not the United States. But he was born a U.S. citizen, because of his mother's U.S. citizenship.

“My mother was born in Wilmington, Del.,” Cruz said. “So, I'm a U.S. citizen by birth.”

Cruz said he would not "engage in a legal debate" about the topic.

“The facts are clear, I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were,” Cruz said. “And then as a legal matter, others can worry about that. I'm not going to engage.”

For more of the interview with Cruz, including his reaction to the announcement by Rep. Peter King, R–N.Y., that he is considering running for president, in part to keep the Republican Party from being defined by people like Cruz, check out this episode of Politics Confidential.

ABC's Stephanie Smith, Betsy Klein, Jack Harris, Tim Bloomquist, and Mike Vogel contributed to this episode.