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Sen. Ted Cruz Heads Into Arizona Primary Backed By House Conservative
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Sen. Ted Cruz Heads Into Arizona Primary Backed By House Conservative

Politics

Sen. Ted Cruz Heads Into Arizona Primary Backed By House Conservative

Sen. Ted Cruz Heads Into Arizona Primary Backed By House Conservative
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Arizona Rep. David Schweikert threw his support behind Sen. Ted Cruz last week, calling him a "principled leader." Schweikert is a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And Republican Congressman Dave Schweikert of Arizona is in our studios here in Washington. Once again, congressman, good morning.

DAVID SCHWEIKERT: Good morning.

INSKEEP: What do you think of what you've just heard?

SCHWEIKERT: A, heartbreaking - B, we're going to have to have a honest conversation of rethinking the threat levels from a lone wolf because...

INSKEEP: This isn't a lone wolf. That's what you're saying?

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah, I mean, repeatedly these appear to be coordinated attacks. And it's going to - we're really going to have to look at our modeling.

INSKEEP: Is this making you think differently about security in the United States then?

SCHWEIKERT: My greater fear, it's - when something like that - this is so devastating. And you try to process and understand it, it - the cascade effect - everything from our politics to how we do security and are we truly finding the most effective way to keep our population safe? And, you know, there's still facts to be gained.

INSKEEP: Now, this event takes place, of course, in the middle of a presidential campaign, which is why we invited you on the program this morning because your state, Arizona, is one of two voting today for presidential candidates.

SCHWEIKERT: Yes.

INSKEEP: And you've endorsed Ted Cruz on the Republican side. Are you for Ted Cruz or against Donald Trump?

SCHWEIKERT: Well, a little bit of both, actually - but I have the uniqueness of, you know, being in the House. I've actually worked with Senator Cruz on some pretty complex pieces of legislation. And in that case, I know him to be just stunningly bright. So that's what drove my endorsement. Arizona's a unique state from the standpoint that we have a vote-through-mail-predominant system. So the candidates all showed up this last weekend. Yet, the reality - probably about 60 percent of the votes were already in the mail.

INSKEEP: You mailed yours in some time back?

SCHWEIKERT: Oh, yeah, probably two and a half weeks ago.

INSKEEP: So let me ask you a question. We had a supporter of Donald Trump on the program yesterday, Roger Stone. And our question for him was, how can this guy win a general election when 64 percent of Americans say they do not approve of Donald Trump? The same question can be asked about Ted Cruz, though. How can this man, who is very conservative and who is a certain kind of candidate, win a general election?

SCHWEIKERT: You know, it's a great question. What ends up happening is, if we want to move on to the polling, you start to model what's the nature of the negatives. And we're obviously heading towards the general election, where both the presumptive Democrat nominee and whoever the Republican nominee are going to be upside down in their negatives. So now...

INSKEEP: Hillary Clinton is about 50 percent in that department now.

SCHWEIKERT: Yeah. And this will be unique because it's going to be an election of the lesser of disdain for many of the voters. So you - and I don't mean to get geeky on this. But you start to break it up. What is the nature of my dislike? Do I dislike this person because they're not warm and fuzzy or because I find them appalling on a certain issue? And, you know, that's still to be understood.

INSKEEP: Well, that raises a question - in about 20 seconds that we have - then. Can Ted Cruz, who has said, I'm very conservative and you can trust me. I'm going to do what I say I'm going to do. I'm going to follow some very precise policies. I'm very hard-line on many different policies. Can he expand the Republican base? Can he expand the tent?

SCHWEIKERT: Look, we go through this almost - at the end of almost every cantankerous primary season. And we don't have a choice, do we? At some point, you're going to have to reach out and, if you're that nominee, listen to a variety of different voices.

INSKEEP: OK. Congressman, thanks so much.

SCHWEIKERT: I appreciate you having me.

INSKEEP: Dave Schweikert is a Republican congressman from Arizona, talking with us on this morning that Utah and Arizona both vote for presidential candidates.

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