Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) praised Donald Trump's performance at the first presidential debate in an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday morning. Cruz also offered to help Trump prepare for future debates.
Cruz gave his assessment of the debate on Facebook late last night.
"I thought Donald had the strongest debate performance he’s had in this election cycle," Cruz said on Hewitt's nationally syndicated morning radio program. "I think he really went after Hillary, which was a good thing. And I think he drew strong contrast, particularly on taxes, and on regulation and on law and order, and on the disastrous Iran deal. And so I thought it was a good debate night."
"Anyone who is swooning at Hillary’s performance last night, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re a card-carrying member of the liberal media, especially in the first half hour. I think Donald very much had the upper hand over Hillary. Hillary was tentative and had no real answers. She was on the defensive the entire time," Cruz said.
Cruz said he would be "happy to help" the Trump campaign with debate prep, saying he will do whatever is needed to defeat Clinton.
"I am happy to help," he said. "I have conveyed that to them. I will do whatever I can to defeat Hillary Clinton. My heavy focus this cycle, in addition to defeating Hillary, is on preserving a Republican majority in the Senate, and I am working hard to help my colleagues get reelected."
Full transcript of the interview, via the Hugh Hewitt show:
HUGH HEWITT: Joined now by United States Senator Ted Cruz from the great state of Texas. He made news a couple of days ago by endorsing Donald Trump. He made more news last night with an assessment of the debate on Facebook. Senator Cruz, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
SENATOR TED CRUZ: Hugh, it’s good to be with you. Thank you for having me.
HH: Thank you for being here. Tell me what you saw last night.
TC: Well, last night, I thought it was a very strong debate. I thought Hillary did not have a good performance. I think throughout the night, she was tired, she was formulaic. The entire debate from Hillary was more Washington as usual. And every proposal she advanced was another big government solution that isn’t working, that is failing. And I thought Donald had the strongest debate performance he’s had in this election cycle. I think he really went after Hillary, which was a good thing. And I think he drew strong contrast, particularly on taxes, and on regulation and on law and order, and on the disastrous Iran deal. And so I thought it was a good debate night.
HH: Now the conventional wisdom is that she trounced him because of the birther issue and because of fading energy on the part of Donald Trump. There is a dissenting view – Nicole Wallace, Mike Brzezinski, Hugh Hewitt believe the first 35 minutes to 40 minutes were all his for the reasons you just stated, and that he kept name checking Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to the great advantage of his primary state efforts there. Would you address both in turn, which is the confirmation bias underway in elite media, and the social desirability bias I’ve been warned about by Sean Trende, and at the same time, his name checking and the effectiveness thereof?
TC: Well, sure. You know, anyone who is swooning at Hillary’s performance last night, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re a card-carrying member of the liberal media, especially in the first half hour. I think Donald very much had the upper hand over Hillary. Hillary was tentative and had no real answers. She was on the defensive the entire time. And the biggest thing is her answers, they sounded old and tired, and I don’t mean that in a comment on her health. I mean it on a comment on her ideas. Her ideas are rehashed 1960s Great Society, big government programs. And to me, they did not rise to the occasion remotely. Now of course, the media is going to hyperventilate at how terrific she is, because that’s what they do. You know, the idea that they focus on the birther issue, I find thoroughly amusing, because unless you are in a college faculty hall, or the newsroom of a major newspaper, I don’t think there are a whole lot of voters in this country that give a flying flip about the birther issue. And so if the media thinks that was the takeaway from last night, I think that shows just how disconnected they are from working men and women who’ve been hammered for seven years under the Obama economy and are looking for something different. And if all Hillary cares about is screaming you’re a racist, you’re a racist rather than actually providing real solutions to the challenges facing working men and women, I don’t think that’s a good debate night for her.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, there were some missed opportunities.
HH: And I said this on MSNBC. The Supreme Court did not come up, and when he puts out a list with not only Senator Lee, but I mean, you’ve got Judge Tymkovich, you’ve got Judge Gorsuch, you’ve got my favorite, Judge Ryan, a Luttig clerk like you and a Commandant of the Marine Corps aide, and a Notre Dame grad, so we get out of the Ivy Leagues for a while. Why did he not do that?
TC: You know, I don’t know. I will say the questions didn’t naturally lend themselves to it. You and I would both have loved to have seen a much more direct discussion of the Supreme Court, of the Constitution, of the Bill of Rights. I think to some extent, the moderator can be faulted for that, and that was just not the direction the conversation was going. But to my mind, that is one of the biggest, if not the biggest distinction between the two candidates. And as you know, the developments last week were a major reason why I made the decision to vote for Trump in November, because on Friday, he put out a list of 21 judges, and a couple of important things. One, as you noted, he put my friend and colleague, Mike Lee, at the top of the list. Senator Mike Lee, I think, would make an extraordinary Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. But secondly, and this was the most important part of the list, and much of the media missed this, when he put it out, he explicitly committed that the only people he would consider are the 21 names on the list. Previously, they had put out a list of 11 names, but there had been no commitment other than these are among the people we will look at. On Friday, they locked themselves in and said these 21 are the only ones up for consideration. That was a major new development, and it was a major new development exactly along the lines of what I had urged in Cleveland, which is that I wanted to see our nominee defend freedom, defend the Constitution, and the Supreme Court is going to be right at the crossroads of determining whether the Bill of Rights remains vibrant in protecting our liberties, or whether it is rendered a dead letter by a Hillary Clinton judicial activist Court.
HH: Now Senator Cruz, I want to spend a moment on this, because I was on the Meet the Press panel on Sunday defending your endorsement, and arguing you made it because of that very reason, with some pushback from Mike Murphy, among others, with whom you have battled in the past, I have to note for the record, that oh, no, this is a primary challenge. Ted Cruz is worried about Mike McCaul, Rick Perry, you name it. and I just, I don’t think you’re vulnerable. So how do you respond to that?
TC: Well, it is not surprising that there are a bunch of people throwing rocks, and I would note that the people who are throwing rocks are by and large people who have hated the fact that I have stood up to Washington and the Senate since I have been elected. They have hated that I’ve taken on leadership and have been willing to lead the fight against Obamacare, willing to lead the fight against the debt ceiling, willing to lead the fight against amnesty. And when you have liberal Republicans who don’t want to see conservatives doing that, their natural fallback, and the fallback of many of the mainstream media, is anytime you’re fighting for conservative principles, they accuse you of being just political. That’s just what they say. They say oh, this is just politics. This is political. You know, the Wall Street Journal had an editorial where they said oh, it must be political. What inevitably happens is the Washington establishment accuses anyone who stands up to them of doing what they in fact are doing. Here’s the simple reality. If I were being political, I would have endorsed Donald Trump back in Cleveland at the convention. That was the obvious political thing to do. If the goal were political, that’s the easy decision. It’s why almost every other elected official did so. You know, you can have lots of criticisms about me. Some people say that I fight and stick too hard to my principles and am not willing enough to compromise. That’s a fair criticism. We can have a discussion about when compromise is appropriate and when it’s not. But the reason I stood my ground in Cleveland is actually the exact same reason I made the decision on Friday, which is that I believe every voter should follow your conscience and do not stay home. Come out and vote up and down the ticket for candidates you trust to defend freedom and defend the Constitution. And I hoped in Cleveland to help push our candidate, push our nominee to the right, to embrace freedom, to embrace the Constitution, because I think that’s the only way we win. And in the weeks and months since Cleveland, I had been urging the Trump campaign repeatedly to give more specificity, especially on the Supreme Court. And so about three weeks ago when I sat down with Mike Pence, and we had a conversation about what it would take for me to come on board, that was the major issue I stressed, was the Supreme Court. Every one of our rights, whether it’s the 2nd Amendment, whether it’s religious liberty, whether it’s free speech, we’re one vote away from losing it. And for me, at least, I wanted to see greater specificity, a greater degree of comfort, that Justice Scalia’s replacement and the subsequent justices would be principled Constitutionalists. You and I both know many of the people on that list of 21. It is a terrific list, and the commitment on Fridaythey made that they would only nominate from that list, to me, was a big deal, and that was enough to move me over to a yes. Also, because by any measure, Hillary would be a disaster, and at this point, it is abundantly clear the election’s a binary choice. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be president. So if you don’t want Hillary, and I am very much in the Never Hillary camp, the only choice that can beat Hillary is Donald Trump.
HH: So you and I are conversant with the threat to religious liberty and the overturning of Hobby Lobby.
HH: This threat to the 2nd Amendment, the overturning of Heller, the threat to the 10th Amendment and the overturning of all federalism jurisprudence of which Justice Kennedy is a part. All of that goes out, and the expansion of the regulatory state is unchecked and it’s exponential in its growth. Given that, will you be out campaigning for Donald Trump? And if they ask you to help with debate prep, would you do so?
TC: I am happy to help. I have conveyed that to them. I will do whatever I can to defeat Hillary Clinton. My heavy focus this cycle, in addition to defeating Hillary, is on preserving a Republican majority in the Senate, and I am working hard to help my colleagues get reelected. I’m working hard to raise money for them, to help turn out conservatives in their state. And then I’m also working hard in the state of Texas to turn out conservatives, because if conservatives stay home this cycle, we could see really bad results on down ticket ballots, on judicial races, on state rep races. I don’t want to see that happen. So I’m going to do everything I can to urge conservatives to come out and vote, even if they may not be thrilled at the candidates on the ballot. I’m urging them to come out and vote anyway, because the consequences of staying home, I think, are really quite significant.
HH: Last question, Senator Cruz. Mr. Trump did not make much of the server last night, despite the Friday document dump, which included evidence that Secretary Clinton and then-CentCom commander General David Petraeus exchanged a thousand emails on that private server. The consequence of this, of national security, are disastrous. What do you think is going on at the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Department of Justice, with regards to this case?
TC: Well, unfortunately, I think the FBI, and I think the director, James Comey, gave in to politics, and it was a corrupt decision. It was a decision sadly that appears designed to curry favor with Barack Obama and the administration, and with Hillary Clinton, who I assume he believed would be the next administration. The FBI has a long tradition of being above and outside politics. And I think James Comey has undermined that by willfully turning a blind eye to what appears to be a deliberate, repeated pattern of criminality by Hillary Clinton. And it’s one of the many reasons why she’s manifestly unfit to be president.
HH: Senator Ted Cruz, thank you for joining me. Thank you for your explanation. Keep working. I appreciate it so much, one of the people that agree with me that SCOTUS is at the center of this election. Thank you, Senator Cruz.