Ted Cruz makes for an awkward late-night guest. Last March, he squirmed as Seth Meyers grilled him on climate change and same-sex marriage. In September, Stephen Colbert had to instruct his audience to stop booing the Texas senator. What made Cruz think a sit-down with Jimmy Kimmel would go any better?
Kimmel introduced Cruz as the man “who hopes to stop the runaway train known as Donald Trump” and welcomed him to Hollywood by asking, “Have you been tempted by our decadent liberal ways?”
Soon, Kimmel began confronting Cruz with some of his fellow senators’ harshest criticisms. “You’re not popular with your colleagues,” the host said. All Cruz could say in response, “When you stand up to Washington, they don’t like it.”
From there, Cruz attempted to deliver his usual talking point about fighting to “stop the disaster that is Obamacare.” But Kimmel was quick to cut him off. “Is that really a disaster? Because it just doesn’t feel like it is,” he said to cheers from the crowd.
Cruz admitted that Obamacare is “probably not a disaster with millionaire Hollywood movie stars and rock stars,” to which Kimmel just laughed. “You think these are the only people I hang around with?” he asked.
Later, Kimmel forced Cruz to defend his call for police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the U.S. after the terror attack in Brussels. “I know you’re—you love the Constitution. You're a very strict Constitutionalist. Isn’t this in direct competition with the Bill of Rights?”
Cruz did his best to convince Kimmel that the threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” is so great that those concerns should fall by the wayside, but it just didn’t work. “Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not with you on that one,” Kimmel said. “But, well, you know what, we will agree to disagree on that.”
After a break, Kimmel finally asked Cruz for his thoughts on Donald Trump. “Is he the person you dislike most of anyone in America?” the host asked. As Cruz started to equivocate, Kimmel amended his question: “Who do you like better, Obama or Trump?”
“I dislike Obama’s policies more,” Cruz replied, “but Donald—Donald is a unique individual.” Referring to a bit earlier in the show, the candidate added, “If I were in my car and getting ready to reverse and saw Donald in the backup camera? I’m not confident which pedal I’d push.”