WASHINGTON — Heckled on live television, Sen. Ted Cruz sparred Monday with the hosts of ABC’s The View, who accused him of undermining democracy by trying to keep former President Donald Trump in power when he lost the 2020 election.
At one point, a climate protester who’d snagged a ticket shouted the F-bomb at Cruz, though viewers didn’t hear it because the network cut audio.
“I’ve been very vocal and very critical of you. I’m sorry that this has happened in our house,” co-host Ana Navarro told Cruz after an abrupt commercial break, though she and other co-hosts quickly resumed a pile-on, questioning his character and judgment for allying himself with Trump and attempting to overturn the election.
“We may not like when Republicans win, but … we don’t storm (the Capitol). We don’t try to change” the outcome of an election, co-host Whoopi Goldberg told him in one testy exchange.
Cruz compared “antifa” protests over police brutality to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress, when a mob encouraged by Trump interrupted the electoral certification. Cruz led a group of senators who challenged the state-certified results from Pennsylvania and Arizona that day.
When Cruz recalled that Hillary Clinton questioned the 2000 election because the Supreme Court had stepped in, Navarro parried by recalling how Clinton handled her own defeat in 2016: “She called Donald Trump the next morning and she conceded the election, Ted.”
Cruz’s appearance was part of a tour to promote his latest book, Justice Corrupted: How the Left Weaponized Our Legal System, which will be released Tuesday.
Goldberg held up a copy and announced that everyone in the studio would get one.
The co-hosts gave Cruz leeway to offer talking points.
He predicted a GOP “tidal wave” in the upcoming midterm election. He denounced President Joe Biden’s handling of border security and the economy. He called the House Jan. 6 committee a “kangaroo circus” and called it ludicrous for anyone to think Trump will agree to testify.
And he made the most of his appearance by touting it on social media before and after it aired, using it to hawk his book.
The co-hosts were eager to engage in more rough and tumble conversation, though.
“I would say your responsibility was to a constitutional democracy, not to Donald Trump,” Navarro said at one point, after playing a snippet from 2016, when Cruz called Trump a “pathological liar” for linking his father to the JFK assassination.
“It’s a very different Ted Cruz that we’re seeing,” Navarro said. “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”
Cruz gave much the same explanation as he had during his 2018 Senate campaign.
“We had a primary and Donald Trump and I beat the living crap out of each other. ... Why did I choose to work with him even though I was pissed off at what he said? Because I had a job to do and I had a responsibility” to 30 million Texans, he said.
Co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin, who resigned from Trump’s White House staff and has since become a critic, recalled rallying support for Cruz over Trump when she worked for conservative House members in 2016.
But, she said, “Jan. 6 is something I have a really hard time moving beyond. … How can you be okay with these undemocratic actions and trying to disenfranchise 80 million voters? And do you believe Biden legitimately won the election?”
Cruz urged viewers to read his book for his views on Jan. 6. As to who really won, he said only that “Biden is the president today.”
Hours later on Fox News, he called the show “a bit of a circus” but said conservatives shouldn’t be “just preaching to the choir. A lot of the viewers of The View have only seen one partisan story the whole time.”
The show aired live from ABC’s New York studios.
In town a day early, the senator headed to Yankee Stadium to watch his hometown Houston Astros clinch a World Series berth, conspicuous behind home plate in Astros colors. Viral tweets showed Yankees fans flipping him the bird and shouting abuse, calling him a “racist piece of s---” and urging him to “Go back to Cancun!” a reference to his brief getaway when a winter storm knocked out power for millions of Texans last year.
“That’s all right,” Cruz said as he settled in for a grilling on The View. “I was pretty happy with how the game ended.”
Heckling started moments later, with shouting about climate change. Cruz glanced up and kept speaking as the shouts continued.
Goldberg finally broke in to shush the hecklers: “Let us do our job. We hear you.”
“I couldn’t even hear what they were protesting,” Cruz said.
“They were accusing us of not covering climate change,” Sunny Hostin said.
In September 2020, Cruz appeared on The View to promote a previous book, One Vote Away, about high-stakes Supreme Court confirmation fights. He also blasted Democrats’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.