Ted Cruz makes his late-night debut
(CNN) — Sen. Ted Cruz is no longer limiting his speaking engagements to friendly GOP events and marathon talks on the Senate floor, appearing for the first time Friday on late-night television.
The Texas Republican was on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to talk about the tea party firebrand's growing reputation and his stances on issues such as Obamacare and same-sex marriage.
Cruz has fast become one of the most outspoken critics of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
He picked up 2016 speculation steam as one of the leaders of the Defund Obamacare movement in Congress, an effort that helped precipitate the partial government shutdown when Democrats flatly refused to pass a government funding bill that also sought to destroy the health care law.
Those tactics have gained Cruz intense ire from Democrats and even some Republicans, a situation that seemed to suit Cruz just fine Friday. Asked by Leno about descriptions of the freshman senator as aggressive, arrogant and abrasive, Cruz said, "Don't believe everything you read."
Cruz continued, "What I'm trying to do is do my job," he said. "And occasionally people don't like it."
On Obamacare, Cruz continued to maintain his tried-and-true talking points -- that the law is destructive and harmful, costing people jobs and money on their premiums.
Cruz avoided labels of only wanting to do away with health care reform.
"I'm a big believer in health care reform," Cruz said.
"I think we ought to reform healthcare so it's personal, it's portable, it's affordable. We ought to empower patients rather than government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor."
Cruz also touched on some of the controversy surrounding his father, Rafael Cruz, a businessman and evangelical pastor who's made a number of controversial comments, including calling on President Barack Obama to be sent "back to Kenya." The two have frequently campaigned together and Cruz has often called his father his inspiration.
The comments of his father that Cruz responded to Friday was the elder Cruz's opposition to same-sex marriage, an opposition the younger Cruz shares. But the younger Cruz feels the issue is one that should be determined state to state.
Politics is a dirty game, Cruz acknowledged in the attacks against his father.
"Some folks have decided to try to go after him because they want to take some shots at me," Cruz said.
"But I think the critics are better off attacking me."