Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) ostensibly came on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show Wednesday night to talk about the upcoming Supreme Court battle and his latest book.
Unsurprisingly, that is not what occurred, as the interview quickly devolved into a 20-plus minute shoutfest where the CNN anchor and senator traded increasingly personal barbs, with Cuomo arguably coming out ahead in the end. (If there ever is a winner in these made-for-trainwreck-TV segments.)
Early on in the interview, Cuomo asked Cruz about President Donald Trump refusing to condemn white supremacists and right-wing extremists during the Tuesday night presidential debate, prompting the Texas lawmaker to pivot to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“The press is partisan in this regard,” Cruz declared. “Ten years ago, 2010, Joe Biden gave a eulogy for Robert Byrd who was a Klan cyclops of the KKK.”
“You’re really going to go with that?” Cuomo fired back. “You’re going to go with this weak-ass argument here?! Byrd, who had a complete enlightenment about how hate was wrong, who changed his life, who spoke about it.”
After Cruz sarcastically pointed out that he hadn’t “eulogized a klansman,” Cuomo jumped back in and pointed out that Trump has a history of refusing to disavow racism and white supremacy before taking a personal shot at the conservative senator.
“He did it in Charlottesville, he did it with David Duke,” the CNN host exclaimed. “The old Ted Cruz, who he called Lyin’ Ted when he wasn’t insulting your wife and father. What happened to that, Ted? I don’t know if he changed or just you changed, for some reason.”
The CNN host was, naturally, referencing the contentious 2016 Republican presidential primary between Trump and Cruz, which featured Trump tweeting out insults about Cruz’s wife and peddling baseless conspiracies about Cruz’s father being involved in JFK’s assassination, among other things. Cruz, despite the very personal insults made by Trump, eventually backed the current president during the 2016 election.
“You know, I’m glad you take tips on insults from other folks,” Cruz retorted with a smile, prompting Cuomo to ask: “Really? Am I insulting you, sir?”
“Yeah, you are. And you’re enjoying it,” the senator replied.
Moments later, the fight once again revolved around families, this time with Cruz bringing up Cuomo’s New York governor brother and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Does it trouble you at all that New York and New Jersey had the highest death rates in the country?” Cruz pressed after spending a few minutes blasting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response to the crisis, notably his nursing home policy.
“Of course, it all troubles me, Ted! And to watch guys like you stand by and stroke your beard like a wise man instead of telling the president to get on it when you have power is a problem,” Cuomo fired back.
“How about telling your brother to get on it,” the senator responded, setting the CNN anchor up for the kill shot.
“My brother will stand on his own record,” he declared. “Why don’t you talk to the president like you talk to my brother, Ted? You afraid of him? You think he’ll smack you down at home? Is that what it is? Like he shut you up in the primary?”
“Yeah, I’m terrified of the Cuomos,” Cruz interjected.
“I’m talking about the president. My brother’s not the president,” the CNN anchor continued. “The one who called you a liar, who said your wife was ugly, that guy! The guy now who you won’t say anything about!”
Cruz, clearly taken aback, went on to accuse Cuomo of opting to “scream and yell” in order to avoid discussing his new book before the two continued to shout over each other for the rest of the segment.