HUGH HEWITT, HOST: Are you watching much of the Olympics, Senator Cruz?
SEN. TED CRUZ: You know, Iâ€™ll confess I have been on the road so much that I havenâ€™t had a chance to sit down and turn the television on.
HH: Well, Iâ€™ve got to ask you, even you canâ€™t go an hour without seeing Putin. When you see Putin, what do you think, Senator Cruz?
TC: Look, I think the direction he is taking Russia is very problematic. Itâ€™s problematic for Russia, itâ€™s problematic for America, and for the world. He is systematically oppressing his people, but he is also taking advantage of President Obamaâ€™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 Russiaâ€™s sphere of influence and attempt to reassemble the old Soviet Union. You see the pressure theyâ€™re putting on Georgia, you see the pressure theyâ€™re putting on Ukraine. Itâ€™s dangerous, and unfortunately, President Obama is doing nothing effectively to counteract it.
HH: 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?
TC: 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 donâ€™t have to like someone to negotiate with them, but the only negotiation that can be effective with Putin is a negotiation from strength.
HH: Now what Iâ€™m raising here, obviously, is the question that weâ€™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 thereâ€™s a Putin test out there for anyone who would be presidentâ€¦
HH: â€¦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?
TC: You know, thereâ€™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, bares similarities to what Castro has done to Cuba, and whereâ€¦
HH: Sure, it does.
TC: â€¦many, many oppressive dictatorsâ€¦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