Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said following the second Republican Party primary debate on Wednesday night that he believes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was “the big winner” and that most of the candidates did not do anything to help themselves.

Cruz made the remarks during an episode of his “Verdict” podcast with co-host Ben Ferguson following the debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

“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 said that after the first debate, he thought former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy did well, but the overall winner was Trump because other candidates outside of DeSantis did well.

“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.”

Cruz said that DeSantis did the best for several reasons, including the “behavior of the others,” who he said “bickered like children.”

“And I don’t think it helped them,” Cruz said speaking of the other candidates. “I think when they were just yelling at each other back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth. When you see a bunch of people screaming at each other, they don’t look like presidents. They’re not behaving like presidents. Presidents don’t have to yap at each other.”

Cruz said that DeSantis had “several best answers of the night,” including his answer on education, which Cruz said was the “single best answer of the night.”


“The topic came up about education, it came about school choice, and 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.”

Cruz said he also thought DeSantis gave a “very, very strong” answer while talking about victories that he won in Florida. “The reason people got excited about DeSantis when he launched the campaign is the victories that he had in Florida, big policy victories,” Cruz said. “He emphasized that.”

Cruz said he also liked the moment where DeSantis talked about winning and how he won in landslide fashion during the midterms while the Republican Party largely underperformed across the country.

“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.”

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