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Ted Cruz called out for flubbing facts on Supreme Court nominees, not speaking Spanish

This was the strangest GOP debate yet.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate may have been the most raucous yet—and it started just moments into the action. 

John Dickerson, debate moderator and host of CBS News’s Face the Nation, questioned the slate of GOP presidential candidates about President Obama‘s announcement that he plans “to fulfill my duty to nominate a successor” to late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday. Scalia was 79 years old. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) condemned Obama’s decision, saying it was “unprecedented” for a new Supreme Court Justice to be appointed in an election year. “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year,” Cruz said.

Dickerson pushed back, correctly explaining that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988—the year Republican George H.W. Bush took on Democrat Michael Dukakis in the general election.

“No, Kennedy was confirmed in ’87,” Cruz said. 

The exchange then devolved into whether Cruz meant “appointed” or “confirmed.” (President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy in 1987, though he was confirmed the Supreme Court in 1988.) Dickerson then apologized for attempting to “get the facts straight for the audience”—members of which then booed his fact-checking.

Later in the debate, following a series of fiery exchanges between Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, rivals Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) went head to head on the issue of immigration.

Cruz and Rubio exchanged insults and accusations about immigration. Each senator claimed the other had a history of being soft on illegal immigration, culminating in the electric moment seen above, when Cruz accused Rubio of going on Univision and being soft on the issue. 

Rubio said Cruz didn’t know what he was talking about, and that he didn’t even speak Spanish, which led to a retort en espanol from the Texas senator.

The crowd—which continued its booing for much of the night—went wild while Ohio Gov. John Kasich shook his head, seemingly in disbelief.

“I think we’re fixin’ to lose the election to Hillary Clinton,” said Kasich, “if we don’t stop this.” 

Screengrab via CBS

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