Texas Sen. Ted Cruz expressed his thoughts regarding the recent Republican primary debate, recognizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the standout performer of the night.
“This was a bumpy debate. There were a lot of rocky moments. I think most of the candidates did not help themselves,” Cruz said. His assessment came during an episode of his podcast, which he co-hosts with Ben Ferguson, aired following the debate hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
His verdict was clear: DeSantis emerged victorious amid a field of candidates largely failing to uplift their standing. In contrast to the first debate, where Cruz noted the commendable performances of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, this time, DeSantis shone the brightest in the eyes of the Cuban-American legislator.
“I think going into the night DeSantis needed to do well. And I think he rose to the occasion,” Cruz opined. He further asserted that DeSantis outperformed everyone on stage, attributing this partly to the unbecoming “behavior of the others,” who engaged in childlike bickering, according to Cruz.
“And I don’t think it helped them,” Cruz commented. His observation was that the candidates’ discord made them appear unpresidential, a stark contrast to DeSantis’ composed demeanor.
Cruz was particularly impressed by DeSantis’ responses on education topics. He believed the governor’s strong stance on school choice and his assertive rebuttal to critiques on Florida’s efforts to eradicate Critical Race Theory were powerful.
“The topic came up about education, it came about school choice, and he gave a strong, powerful answer about school choice,” Cruz highlighted. He applauded Florida’s record on school choice, a policy DeSantis robustly defended.
Further, Cruz acknowledged DeSantis’ emphasis on his policy victories in Florida, portraying them as a strong testament to his capability and leadership. This was epitomized when DeSantis discussed his impressive win in last year’s midterm elections at a time when the Republican Party saw underwhelming performance nationwide.
“He talked about winning in Florida, even as nationally, we were getting clobbered in 2022,” Cruz reiterated. He appreciated DeSantis’ argument of being a proven winner, capable of defeating Democrats, which was delivered more convincingly in this debate compared to the previous one.
“In many ways, his strongest argument against Trump is that he won while many other candidates that Trump had supported nationally did not win that cycle. And his argument, you want a winner, you want someone who can beat the Democrats, I’m that guy. I think he articulated it much, much better tonight than he did in the first debate, that’s why I think Ron DeSantis won tonight,” Cruz concluded.
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