Ted Cruz may have picked the wrong time to get snippy with the debate moderator.
The Texas senator has been known for attracting attention at his debate gaffes, and had one of those viral moments on Tuesday during a debate with Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke. During a question about the importance of civility and respectfulness in politics, Cruz launched into what he saw as a “rage on the far left” and the moderator tried to ask a follow-up question.
“Don’t interrupt me, Jason,” Cruz shot back as he continued attacking what he saw as an “angry mob” of protesters after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
The strange reaction to a question about civility has garnered some major attention, with video of Cruz’s angry interjection going viral on social media, which many are saying may have lost the debate for him. Others wondered how a veteran of so many debates could slip up during a question aimed at promoting civility.
Beto O’Rourke wipes the floor with embattled Senator Ted Cruz in epic Texas Senate debate https://t.co/5BaLNnF5Ts
— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) October 17, 2018
As CBS News noted, the debate was filled with contentious moments between the candidates, and O’Rourke even resurrected one of the most damaging viral moments from Ted Cruz’s debate past.
“Senator Cruz is not going to be honest with you,” O’Rourke said about Cruz’s penchant for telling mistruths about his opponent’s voting record. “It’s why the president called him Lyin’ Ted, and it’s why the nickname stuck.”
"Don't interrupt me, Jason," says Ted Cruz as the moderator tried to ask a follow-up question on the importance of remaining civil in debate.#TexasDebate https://t.co/zx11ahFiDT pic.twitter.com/4gxaJK3vw1
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 17, 2018
The “Lyin’ Ted” taunt from the 2016 Republican Primary was not the only embarrassing debate moment to go viral for the Texas senator. In a debate during that same cycle, television cameras appeared to catch a booger fall out of Ted’s nose and into his mouth, where it disappeared.
That March 2016 debate was also famous for a dig from Marco Rubio claiming that Trump had small hands, insinuating that his manhood was small as well. Never one to miss a chance to respond to an insult, Trump defended himself against the apparent dig at his anatomy.
“I guarantee you there’s no problem,” Trump said (via CNN) as the audience cheered.
Ted Cruz ended up losing the nomination to Trump that year, and is locked in a tight race with O’Rourke for the senate seat. Polls have showed Cruz maintaining a single-digit lead but often within the margin of error. The race has gained national interest for its potential to tip the senate back to Democrats, with Tuesday’s debate getting a nationwide audience.