It’s a good thing CNN’s Erin Burnett was seated between Rudy Giuliani and Mark Cuban in Las Vegas on Wednesday evening or things might have gotten physical. The two surrogates for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively, just barely remained respectful as they tore into the opposing candidate’s records.
From the start, the two men were at each other’s throats over Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails and Donald Trump’s business record. After Giuliani ticked off a litany of things that he believes would land Clinton in prison if she were anyone else, Cuban replied, “I say this with all due respect Rudy Giuliani: You are an American hero and I respect everything you have done but everything you said is incorrect about Hillary Clinton. One hundred percent, absolutely incorrect.” Later, he accused the former New York mayor and then Republican presidential candidate of pushing conspiracy theories “like out of the X-Files.”
The fight only escalated when Giuliani brought up Trump’s “great deal of success in business” as justification for why he should be elected president. “Name any of his products that are still successful,” Cuban said, arguing that Trump “cheated” the paying students of Trump University. “Trump cards, Trump steaks, Trump clothes, when somebody has to give their name and sell their name that often, that tells me they’re desperate.” While Cuban said Trump did “OK” in real estate, he described the rest of his business career as a “major failure.” And now, said Cuban, his presidential campaign is “hurting his brand even more.”
As Giuliani argued that “everyone’s had failures,” Cuban repeated the line, “Not that many.” When the former mayor said, “People doing bold things sometimes fail,” Cuban asked, “Trump steaks is bold? Trump playing cards is bold?”
After a break, things only got more difficult for Giuliani as Burnett shifted the conversation to the accusations of sexual assault against Trump. Like the candidate, Giuliani categorically denied that any of the alleged incidents took place, despite Trump himself describing similar situations in the leaked Access Hollywood tape from 2005.
“I’ve known him for 28 years, I’ve never seen him do anything remotely close to that,” Giuliani said of Trump. “I have known men who are touchy, feely. I know men who sometimes seem to act inappropriately in the way they touch or handle women. I don’t like it, but Donald Trump is not one of them.”
Meanwhile, Cuban said he personally knows two women in addition to the nine who have come recently forward who say they were mistreated in a sexual way by Trump. “When something goes wrong for Donald, he never owns it,” Cuban said. “It’s always a conspiracy theory.”
By the end of their on-air debate, Cuban appeared to be sitting on his hands in an attempt to control himself as the conversation devolved into a relitigation of Bill Clinton’s past, with Giuliani saying that “Monica Lewinsky would be in an insane asylum if she didn’t have that dress. They were trying to drive that woman insane.”
At one point, Giuliani even brought up Bill Clinton’s alleged “illegitimate children,” to which Cuban shot back, “The illegitimate children? That was disproven!”
“All right, it was disproven,” Giuliani said. “Or was it disproven?”