Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he believed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was the “big winner” in Wednesday’s Republican primary debate.
The second Republican primary debate took place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California and was hosted by Fox News.
Cruz recapped the debate in a Thursday episode of his podcast Verdict With Ted Cruz.
“This was a bumpy debate. There were a lot of rocky moments. I think most of the candidates did not help themselves,” Cruz said. “But my clear conclusion from tonight is the big winner was Ron DeSantis.”
Cruz praised entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s Wednesday debate performance, though said DeSantis had the best responses of the night.
“I think going into the night DeSantis needed to do well. And I think he rose to the occasion,” Cruz said. “I think he did by far the best of anyone on the stage.”
The Texas senator discussed Trump’s absence from the debate and said the best strategy for fellow Republican candidates would be to create a one-on-one competition with the former President.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 28, 2023
Cruz said candidates appeared to “[bicker] like children.”
“When you see a bunch of people screaming at each other, they don’t look like presidents. They’re not behaving like presidents,” he said. “Presidents don’t have to yap at each other.”
Cruz also praised DeSantis’ response to the moderator’s question on education referring to it as the “single best answer of the night.”
“He gave a strong, powerful answer about school choice, about how number one, Florida had implemented universal school choice,” Cruz said. “Florida has led the country in school choice. So, they’ve got a heck of a record to talk about.”
“He was asked about the attacks on their efforts to root out Critical Race Theory in Florida. And he directly confronted that, and I thought it was a tight, crisp answer. That was strong,” he said.
Cruz said the reason people were excited when DeSantis launched his presidential campaign in May was because of his “big policy victories” in the Sunshine State.
“He talked about winning in Florida, even as nationally, we were getting clobbered in 2022,” Cruz said. “He won by 19 points, and I think he did an effective argument. 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,” he added.
To participate, candidates were required to receive at least 3% support in two or more national polls, or 3% in one national poll along with two early state polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada within 48 hours of the debate.
Seven candidates participated in the debate, including DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.