|Things were said to have gotten particularly heated when Cruz was asked point-blank by one of his colleagues if he would renounce attacks waged on fellow GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself closely with Cruz.
He responded saying: "I will not," according to an attendee.
Cruz was asked what he would have done had GOP senators united to filibuster the House bill. One of the senators who attended the meeting had this to say:
"He kept trying to change the subject because he never could answer the question," said the senator. "It's pretty evident it's never been about a strategy -- it's been about him. That's unfortunate. I think he's done our country a major disservice. I think he's done Republicans a major disservice."
"It was very evident to everyone in the room that Cruz doesn't have a strategy -- he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the end-game was," said the senator. "I just wish the 35 House members that have bought the snake oil that was sold could witness what was witnessed today at lunch."
The closed-door meetings on Wednesday were hosted by the Senate's conservative Steering Committee and, therefore, were supposed to be private. Senators interviewed for POLITICO's article could not be named.
Over the August recess, Cruz made the rounds with conservative media and held rallies calling on his GOP colleagues to not support any bill that would keep the government running while also continue funding the Affordable Care Act. Cruz won support from the right and several dozen House Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) then agreed to include the Obamacare defunding provision in a bill to keep the government running past Tuesday.
Cruz's tactics took the shape of a 21-hour floor "filibuster" speech, where he called out many of his GOP colleagues for lacking the courage to fight the Affordable Care Act. Because of Senate procedures, Cruz was calling on his 45 other GOP colleagues to filibuster the same House bill he endorsed. This was in order to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from later stripping out that language.
Just 19 Republicans -- including Ted Cruz himself -- backed the "filibuster" attempt. Senator Reid proceeded to kill the Obamacare language with only the Democrats' votes.
So Cruz kept pushing more buttons.
In the run-up to the Tuesday deadline to avoid the shutdown, Cruz continued to press the anti-Obamcare fight. He lobbied House Republicans to stick their heads in sand and avoid thinking of the prospects of a government shutdown. Like the ineffective leader he has proven himself to be, Speaker Boehner responded with bill after bill targeting pieces of the Affordable Care Act. This was done despite knowing all attempts were without cause. Senate Democrats rejected each one of House' proposals until the midnight deadline, bringing about the first government shutdown in 17 years.
Now, as the government shutdown enters its third day, a number of Republican senators privately blame Cruz for contributing to the mess Republicans are finding themselves in. And now that they're are in it, Republicans say it's now up to Cruz to fix their problems.
Cruz claims the angry exchanges between him and the rest of the party are just false stories:
"It seems that there is nothing the media likes to cover more than disagreements among Republicans, and apparently some senators are content to fuel those stories with anonymous quotes," Cruz told POLITICO. "Regardless, my focus - and, I would hope, the focus of the rest of the conference - is on stopping Harry Reid's shutdown, ensuring that vital government priorities are funded, and preventing the enormous harms that Obamacare is inflicting on millions of Americans."
Other conservatives don't seem to be very happy with Cruz either.
Conservative tax activist, Grover Norquist -- president of Americans for Tax Reform and creator of the anti-tax pledge that nearly every Republican in Congress has signed -- had some interesting words to say about Ted Cruz.
During an interview with the Washington Post, columnist Ezra Klein questioned Norquist about the government shutdown and its consequences for his agenda. When asked about Ted Cruz's impact on the overall larger strategy Norquist had hoped Republicans followed, Norquist said this about Cruz:
I'm cheerful because every Republicans is for repeal of Obamacare. When's the last time we passed a big government entitlement and every Republican opposed it and kept pointing out that it's a mistake? There's unanimity among Republicans. They all voted against the thing being created and for it being repealed.
The only confusion that comes out is that Cruz stood on the side and confused people about the fact that every Republican agrees. He said if you don't agree with my tactic and with the specific structure of my idea, you're bad. He said if the House would simply pass the bill with defunding he would force the Senate to act. He would lead this grass-roots movement that would get Democrats to change their mind. So the House passed it, it went to the Senate, and Ted Cruz said, oh, we don't have the votes over here. And I can't find the e-mails or ads targeting Democrats to support it. Cruz said he would deliver the votes and he didn't deliver any Democratic votes. He pushed House Republicans into traffic and wandered away.
So then the House said, breaking completely with Cruz because Cruz thinks if you're not defunding the whole thing it's treason, that there's delay. There's getting rid of medical device taxes. They've done a series of things to hold together Republicans and break with Cruz. But because we started with the Cruz approach this got to the shutdown.
Looks like Grover Norquist wants to drown Ted Cruz in a bathtub.
Looks like we haven't even reached the Republican primaries and, yet, are already witnessing Republicans feast on their own. Building bridges at first glance doesn't seem to be Ted Cruz's forte. But the man has single-handed united both Republicans and Democrats, along with the rest of the country, all against him.
Something tells me Cruz's fifteen minutes of fame and relevance are almost up.
Follow can follow me on Twitter at @AraizaTX