Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says in some ways, he hopes Ted Cruz becomes the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.
"If I didn't care so much about our country, I would hope he would get the Republican nomination for president, because that would mean the end of the Republican Party," the Nevada Democrat said about the freshman senator from Texas on Wednesday night in an interview on MSNBC.
Cruz, a favorite of tea party supporters and other grassroots activists, was a ringleader among a group of conservative lawmakers who tied their push to defund or dismantle Obamacare with the funding of the federal government. Their standoff with congressional Democrats and the White House resulted in this month's 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
Even though polling indicates the standoff hurt the GOP's image more than the Democrats', Reid said in an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he thought the shutdown will help Cruz with fundraising.
"With Ted Cruz, I am sure this will help him raise more money."
Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, said that Cruz "stands for everything America doesn't."
Cruz is considered a possible contender for the 2016 GOP nomination. Last week he made his third trip this year to Iowa, and next week he heads back to South
Carolina, two crucial early voting states in the presidential primary and caucus calendar.
Asked about his political plans in an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash after the end of the government shutdown, Cruz said he's focused "entirely" on his job in the U.S. Senate. He said the reason he has traveled to early voting states is because he's trying to "make the case to the American people."
As for reports that Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma earlier this week called Reid an a--hole, the Senate Majority Leader said, "I'm sure he didn't mean it," adding that, "We had a meeting. It's all over with."
--CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.