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Fireworks erupted on CNN as Sen. Ted Cruz destroyed host Chris Cuomo in a lengthy war of words covering a wide variety of topics.
The Texas Republican may have appeared on “Cuomo Prime Time” Wednesday to promote his new book, “One Vote Away,” but the 20-minute interview quickly heated up and as Cuomo was thoroughly, and repeatedly, schooled by the senator who was referred to as a “master debater.”
Almost immediately after introducing Cruz, Cuomo jumped off the talking point about his book to ask him about the far-right group the Proud Boys, which came up during Tuesday night’s debate between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“The book, the central thought – one vote, one seat, one judge can make a big difference. So can one voice speaking truth to power, especially when it resonates like your own,” Cuomo said. “Will you be that voice? Will you say playing nice with the Proud Boys is wrong?”
Cruz noted that he had already condemned the group and added that he also believes “white supremacists, Nazis, Klansmen, Nazis are ignorant, bigoted morons.” He attempted to get back to discussing his book but Cuomo had other plans.
“We are talking substance. I just like to call out the hypocrisy…because the audience heads stay on straight that way,” replies the host amid an interview ranging from the debate to Covid-19 testing. pic.twitter.com/XOaVrHxVjD
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) October 1, 2020
“Now, I will exercise my right and say, was the president wrong to go soft on the proud boys in the debate last night?” he asked.
Cruz admitted that he wished Trump was “much clearer in his denunciation” but added that he was glad to see the president and his campaign “sought to walk it back” the next day, a point that Cuomo immediately challenged.
“The press is partisan in this regard. Ten years ago, 2010, Joe Biden gave a eulogy for Robert Byrd who was a Grand Cyclops of the KKK…” Cruz said, accusing the press of being hypocritical.
“Really?” Cuomo interrupted as the senator was speaking.
“You’re really gonna go with that?” he added. “I know you’re a master debater… you’re gonna go with that weak-ass argument here? Byrd, who had a complete enlightenment about how hate was wrong, who changed his life, who spoke about it, who changed his ways?”
“Chris, have you ever eulogized a klansman? I haven’t. I’ll give you another example,” Cruz fired back.
“No, no, no. That’s your example,” Cuomo responded as the senator insisted he could give him “a lot of examples.”
“I don’t want you to run away from the premise,” the CNN host continued, pointing to “Charlottesville” and “David Duke” as examples before turning to the 2016 presidential election and Trump’s personal attacks on Cruz, a GOP candidate at the time.
“What happened to that Ted?” Cuomo asked. “I don’t know if [Trump] changed or just you changed for some reason, Senator.”
“You know, I’m glad you take tips on insults from other folks,” Cruz replied
“Really? Am I insulting you, sir?” Cuomo smugly asked.
“Oh, yeah, you are. And you’re enjoying it,” the lawmaker shot back and later slammed the network.
“Chris, there was a time when CNN actually cared about being journalistic and talking about facts. Donald Trump broke you guys,” Cruz said. “I mean, you’re entire show, your entire network is just about how much you hate Trump.”
Cuomo actually defended himself with the amazing argument that he does not, in fact, hate the president.
“I do not hate the President. You are too smart to say something that stupid. I respect him as President. I want better for this country,” he told Cruz.
But the fiery interview was far from over as Cruz called out the CNN host for repeatedly interrupting him and being disrespectful. Eventually, the subject turned to the coronavirus pandemic and Cuomo slammed the governors of Texas, Florida, and Georgia, prompting Cruz to school him in the facts.
“I’m not yelling at you. I’m raising my voice to match your own, because you want to play games and people are dying.”@ChrisCuomo challenges Sen. @tedcruz on the Trump administration and the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/y8sSPSx2A7
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) October 1, 2020
“I get that your show wants to attack Texas, and Florida, and Georgia because they have Republican governors. We’ve also had much, much lower death rates than many other parts of the country,” Cruz said after Cuomo continued to interject and talk over him. “And it’s political, the attacks you’re making.”
After more smug and immature responses from the CNN host, Cruz fired another round.
“Let me say something,” he interjected. “There is something disgusting that Democrats are doing, that Joe Biden does, and that you do, which is you try to blame the people who’ve lost their lives on your political enemies. And that’s just not right… It’s not right at all and it’s particularly not right, Chris, when your brother has presided over the state with the highest death rate in the country.”
“New York’s record will stand for itself,” Cuomo fired back, defending his brother, New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I know your brother didn’t want those people to lose their lives but you shouldn’t play politics,” Cruz continued.
“Oh, that’s good. So you don’t think he intentionally killed them. That’s good. That’s very charitable of you,” Cuomo sarcastically replied.
The slugfest continued as Cruz pressed, “Was it a mistake when your brother implemented a policy that nursing homes had to accept COVID-positive patients and endanger the lives…”
“My brother was the first one to say there was a learning curve and mistakes were made and they changed things as soon as they could,” Cuomo contended.
“Don’t be a hypocrite about it,” Cruz shot back.
The dramatic exchange went on, with Cruz later accusing the petulant CNN host of yelling.
“I’m not yelling at you,” Cuomo exclaimed. “I’m raising my voice to match your own, because you want to play games and people are dying.”
“You’re doing it because you don’t want to discuss the substance,” Cruz added before Cuomo eventually ended the long interview with a passing mention of the senator’s book.