'I want to get the facts straight': Debate moderator booed after quibbling with Ted Cruz on Supreme Court history

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) engaged in a testy early CBS-debate exchange with moderator John Dickerson over President Barack Obama’s plan to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly earlier Saturday.

“I just want to get the facts straight for the audience. I apologise,” Dickerson said.

But the audience wasn’t content with the apology and loudly booed the moderator.

Dickerson had just quibbled with Cruz’s history of Supreme Court nominations. Cruz had stated that the US has “80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Dickerson began.

The two then debated the facts and the difference on whether any justices had been nominated, but not confirmed, in an election year. Dickerson noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, an election year, after the Senate had rejected then-President Ronald Reagan’s first nominee, Robert Bork.

“But Kennedy was confirmed in ’88,” Dickerson said.

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

“He was appointed in ’87, confirmed in ’88. That’s the question: Is it appointing or confirming. What’s the difference?” Dickerson asked.

“In this case, it’s both. But if I could answer the question?” Cruz asked.

Other Republican presidential candidates also weighed in on Scalia’s death and the path to replace him on the high court.

Dickerson had turned first to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who urged the GOP-controlled Senate to “delay, delay, delay” confirmation of any justice that Obama nominates.

NOW WATCH: A Harvard Law professor explains why he thinks Ted Cruz is ineligible to run for president

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