Conservative darling Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and longtime senior Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain don't much like each other, and Cruz's latest interview is unlikely to repair their fraught relationship.
"I don't know a conservative who didn't feel embarrassed voting in 2006 or 2008," Cruz said, in an interview for the October 2013 issue of GQ. "I think the Republican Party lost its way. We didn't stand for the principles we're supposed to believe in."
The Texas freshman has repeatedly butted heads with McCain, who was known as a centrist and largely independent from toeing the party line -- at least until he ran for president in 2008. Since losing his bid for the White House, McCain has had a return to his maverick form, and that has included taking potshots at the "wacko birds" on either side of the aisle.
"They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else," McCain said in March, after Cruz, along with Kentucky libertarian Sen. Rand Paul and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash threatened to filibuster the confirmation of now CIA Director John O. Brennan. "But I also think that when, you know, it's always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone."
But according to insiders, "wacko" is sugarcoating how McCain actually feels about Cruz and his ilk.
"He [expletive] hates Cruz," one McCain adviser said. "He's just offended by his style."
For his part, Cruz has adopted the "wacko bird" designation as a badge of honor, proudly displaying in his office a baseball cap with the phrase and a picture of Daffy Duck made for him by supporters.
"It has been suggested that those of us who are fighting to defend liberty -- fighting to turn around the out-of-control spending and out-of-control debt in this country, fighting to defend the Constitution, it has been suggested that we are wacko birds," Cruz said once on the Senate floor. "Well, if that is the case, I will suggest to my friend from Arizona, there may be more wacko birds in the Senate than is suspected."