CNN CNN host Chris Cuomo (left) and Sen. Ted Cruz
The CNN host and the Republican lawmaker regularly talked over one another in the approximately 20-minute segment, trading jabs and disputing who is to blame for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo, whose older brother is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told Cruz that it “troubles” him to “watch guys like you stand by and stroke your beard like a wise man instead of telling the president to get on it” about the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 207,000 people in the U.S.
“Chris, how about tell your brother to get on it?” Cruz, 49, replied, referring to how Gov. Cuomo handled the virus in New York state, where more than 32,000 people have died.
Cruz also referenced the governor's controversial decision to allow some coronavirus patients to return to nursing homes, though he has insisted “there were no preventable deaths.”
“My brother will stand for his own record,” Chris, 50, shot back during Wednesday's segment. “Why don’t you talk to the president the way you talk to my brother, Ted? You afraid of him? You think he’ll smack you down at home?”
“Oh yeah, I’m terrified of the Cuomos. You guys are really tough,” Cruz said, shaking his hands in the air, apparently misunderstanding the retort.
“Not the Cuomos, I’m talking about the president,” Chris said, before bringing up how Donald Trump, 74, repeatedly insulted Cruz's family during the 2016 presidential campaign when both men were vying for the Republican nomination.
“I’m talking about the president — the one who called you a liar, the one who said your wife was ugly,” Chris told Cruz. “That guy.”
"You want to insult me. You're perfectly fine to scream and yell," Cruz said later before Chris cut him off: "Oh, but you don't?"
"I'm not yelling at you," Chris had said. "I'm raising my voice to match your own, because you want to play games and people are dying."
"You don't want to discuss the substance," Cruz said.
"I'm not yelling at you. I'm raising my voice to match your own, because you want to play games and people are dying."@ChrisCuomo challenges Sen. @tedcruz on the Trump administration and the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/y8sSPSx2A7
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) October 1, 2020
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic Chris Cuomo
The interview was prickly from the start, after Chris began by saying he thought the Republican senator had long avoided coming on his Cuomo Prime Time program and was now only doing so because he was promoting a new book.
“Sen. Cruz, welcome! I finally got a way for you to talk to me instead of tweeting about me — gives you a chance to sell your book,” Chris said.
Things soon devolved after Cuomo asked Cruz to denounce white supremacist groups, referencing when Trump danced around a similar question during Tuesday night’s presidential debate and told one violent far-right group instead to “stand back and stand by” while maintaining he wanted peace.
Cruz described white supremacist groups as “bigoted morons” before pivoting to accuse Democratic nominee Joe Biden of similarly sympathetic views toward hate groups by arguing that Biden once read a memorial during the funeral of Sen. Robert Byrd — a former member of the KKK who later renounced those views.
“You’re really going to go with that?” Chris told him. “You’re going to go with that weakass argument here?”
At one point, Cruz accused the CNN host of misbehaving in the interview as poorly as Trump and Biden during Tuesday’s debate, choosing to interrupt him rather than listen to his point of view.
Their back-and-forth also sometimes turned into spats over scheduling logistics, tweets and each others' personal lives.
For a brief, 10-second moment near the end of Cruz's appearance, Chris started to ask a question about the pandemic before Cruz interrupted to argue CNN has only been “attacking Republicans” on the health crisis.
He said that Trump "broke" the network and distorted its values.
Elsewhere, Cruz insisted: “I wish that the two political sides actually had conversations where we listened to each other.”