Senator-elect Ted Cruz won't start his new job until January, but he's already fearful that dealing with the frustration of political gridlock will be his biggest challenge as he tries "to get our economy going" again.
In an interview Monday with Fox News's Greta Van Susteren, the Texas Republican said he hasn't seen any fighting yet during his orientation visits to Capitol Hill, but believes gridlock "will be the world in which we live" as long as Democrats continue to control the Senate.
"I do think the next couple of years are going to be challenging. They're going to be challenging because we've got a president who was re-elected," Cruz said. "We've got a Democratic majority and [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid back in power whose philosophies and ideas I think are contrary to a great many Americans.
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"We're going to have a lot of gridlock, unfortunately," he added.
Still, Cruz, a tea-party favorite, sounded a hopeful note. He said he was willing to work with his Democratic colleagues and President Barack Obama as long as their goals are reducing the debt and creating jobs. But how those goals are accomplished, he suggested, will be critical to the nation's well-being.
"We need to turn the country around. I mean, my dream list and my priorities are very simple," he said. "They're cutting spending and the debt, reforming regulations, and fundamental tax reform. And all of those are focused at generating growth. We've got to get our economy going. We've got to get people back to work."
Asked where immigration reform falls on his list of priorities, Cruz acknowledged that Republicans need to do a better job of communicating with the Hispanic community when it comes to immigration. But he suggested that jobs and economic opportunities are a bigger priority for Latino voters.
"I actually don't think it's immigration that's driving the vote," he said. "I think the Democrats want immigration to drive the vote and they're using it as a wedge issue to try to scare the Hispanic community.
"And I think tone matters. I think Republicans' tone on immigration needs to be improved," Cruz continued.
"But I'll tell you, every poll I've ever seen of the Hispanic community shows their number one issue is jobs and the economy, exactly like the rest of this country. What Republicans didn't do a good job of [in the this year's election] is taking the message to the Hispanic community."
Cruz said what Republicans "should have been doing" in the election to attract more Latino voters is "more effectively championing small businesses as the path to climbing the economic ladder."
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