Senator Ted Cruz was a guest on Monday's Hugh Hewitt program to discuss, among other topics, the Olympics and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cruz described Putin as a bully and oppressor, who only understands negotiation through strength. He went on to argue that Putin is taking advantage of Obama because he doesn't understand the Russian President.
Hewitt: Well, I’ve got to ask you, even you can’t go an hour without seeing Putin. When you see Putin, what do you think, Senator Cruz?
Cruz: Look, I think the direction he is taking Russia is very problematic. It’s problematic for Russia, it’s problematic for America, and for the world. He is systematically oppressing his people, but he is also taking advantage of President Obama’s foreign policy blunders to expand Russia influence, and I think he is bound and determined to do as much as he can to expand Russia’s sphere of influence and attempt to reassemble the old Soviet Union. You see the pressure they’re putting on Georgia, you see the pressure they’re putting on Ukraine. It’s dangerous, and unfortunately, President Obama is doing nothing effectively to counteract it.
Hewitt: Now a young President Kennedy went to negotiate with Khrushchev in Vienna long ago and far away, and the measure that Khrushchev took of the young former Senator was not good, and we had the Cuban Missile Crisis. If you or any other young American leader sat down with Putin, I mean, this is a tough character. Do you think you could actually negotiate with him?
Cruz: Well, the only negotiations that a Putin or any other bully understands is a negotiation from strength, and that, unfortunately, is not something that the Obama administration has ever tried. In fact, they seem to systematically alienate our friends, abandon our friends and accommodate and appease our enemies. And so listen, you don’t have to like someone to negotiate with them, but the only negotiation that can be effective with Putin is a negotiation from strength.
Hewitt: Now what I’m raising here, obviously, is the question that we’re going to talk about in a second, because the Washington Post has a story of you going to Iowa in a little bit. But there’s a Putin test out there for anyone who would be president which is can I imagine them sitting down across from Putin. Can you imagine yourself doing that and not being intimidated by a KGB colonel-turned dictator?
Cruz: You know, there’s very little that should be intimidating about a thug. And I guess I view this from the perspective of being the son of someone who fled from oppression from Cuba. And what Putin is doing in Russia is, bears similarities to what Castro has done to Cuba, and where…many, many oppressive dictators…if you disagree with the regime, you know, 2012 was the worst human rights year on record for Russia. Human rights have gone out the window, and sadly, the United States has been all but silent speaking out against the human rights violations.