TODAY   |  November 09, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz grilled on ‘The Tonight Show’

Republican Ted Cruz made his “Tonight Show” debut Friday, but host Jay Leno did not always go for the laughs, and grilled him on politics and policy issues. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> still three years away but you wouldn't know it from all of the folks who seem to be seeking out the national spotlight, especially on the republican side , including ted cruz , a senator who made his late debut on "the tonight show " with jay leno . the comedian put the jokes aside and got down to politics. here is kelly o'donnell.

>> please welcome from the great state of texas , senator ted cruz .

>> reporter: a tea party goes to hollywood. ted cruz making his "the tonight show " debut.

>> i've been reading a lot about you lately and they describe you as aggressive, arrogant, and abrasive. accurate?

>> well, i don't know that you can believe everything you read.

>> reporter: cruz 's ambitions have jolted washington. and already fueled 2016 speculation. he commanded his own mission to block obama care. that failed. but cruz 's profile soared.

>> obama care is the biggest job killer in this country.

>> reporter: but leno pressed cruz about the millions of texans with no insurance.

>> but 25% of the state doesn't have any health care any way so obama care wouldn't help them, would it?

>> well, it wouldn't, number one, because it's taking away a lot of people's health insurance and number two it's killing jobs.

>> whenever you run it ends in a landslide.

>> reporter: several are seeking out the national stage. new jersey governor chris christie made a surprise stop on " late night with jimmy fallon ." on the road, rand paul and marco rubio helped out other candidates. and with rick perry 's ticket to iowa this week.

>> our leaders have forgotten how to govern. believe me, i know what he is thinking about when it comes to forgetting.

>> reporter: the texas governor reminded everyone that he might run again. with cruz going from cspan to late night tv, the republican party looks ready to jump-start the long race to 2016 .

>> very good. senator, thank you very much.

>> thank you.

>> reporter: for "today," kelly o'donnell, nbc