POSTED: Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 9:27am
UPDATED: Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 3:26pm
(CNN) — Sen. Ted Cruz, who has crafted a plan to put the government's finances on the line if President Barack Obama's health care plan isn't stripped of its funding, said in an interview this week there aren't enough Republicans on board currently to make his idea a reality.
"We do not have the votes right now," Cruz said, noting that to succeed, he'd need 41 senators or 218 representatives to get behind his legislation -- which would provide a year of funding for the federal government, minus Obamacare.
But the Texas Republican, speaking with CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," argued a coming "grass-roots tsunami" would bring over fellow conservatives to his side in the next month.
"I'm convinced there's a new paradigm in politics, that actually has Washington very uncomfortable. And it has politicians in both parties very uncomfortable," he said. "And that new paradigm is the rise of the grass roots, the ability of grass-roots activists to demand of their elected officials they do the right thing."
Opponents of Cruz's effort say he's risking a government shutdown in order to repeal Obama's health law, and argue the president would never sign a measure defunding the signature legislation of his five years in office.
But Cruz casts the effort differently: Democrats, he said, would be the ones shutting the government down if they refuse to support a measure that funds all federal programs except Obamacare.
"President Obama, Harry Reid, will scream and holler that the mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government. And at that point, Republicans have to do something we haven't done in a long time -- stand up and win the argument," he said.
"We have voted to keep the government open, to fund the government," Cruz continued. "Why is President Obama threatening to shut the government down to force Obamacare down the the throats of the American people?"
Cruz has support for his plan from a handful of Republicans in Congress, including Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah, but many others in his party have said the plan risks alienating Americans who are tired of seeing the federal government's finances put in the middle of partisan bickering.
Establishment figures like Sen. John McCain and last year's GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, have voiced opposition to the plan, as has Sen. Rand Paul, a tea party-backed Kentucky senator who has aligned with Cruz in the past.
Democrats also fiercly oppose the tactic, including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who appeared on "State of the Union" Sunday.
"These are crazy ideas from the far right," Dean said, calling Cruz "a slick spokesman."
"God help us if he gets to be ything more than the senator from Texas," he added.
Cruz was speaking with CNN in Houston, where he appeared at a town hall meeting that was part of a tour sponsored by the conservative Heritage Foundation meant to build support for the effort to defund Obamacare.
"Obamacare was passed under false pretenses," Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, a former senator, said on "State of the Union" Sunday. "The American people were lied to and they have every right to demand that their representatives stop this unfair and un-American law."