Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had arguably the most memorable moment from Wednesday night’s Republican primary debate on CNBC when he slammed the moderators.
But for Frank Luntz, the veteran GOP pollster who ran a focus group during the debate, the results were clear.
“I have been doing this since 1996 and tonight is a special moment. I’ve never tested — in any primary debate — a line that scored as well as this,” Luntz said after the debate on Fox News’ “The Kelly File.”
The “special” Cruz line in question was one in which he ignored a moderator’s inquiry to shred the debate format for being overly negative.
“Let me say something at the outset: The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said.
He then did a retelling of some of the moderators’ questions to the various candidates on stage.
“This is not a cage match,” he declared. “And you look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain? Ben Carson, can you do maths? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues people care about!”
The audience roared in approval. It was the top moment of the debate on Facebook. And Luntz’s focus group that night also declared it a clear winner. The participants’ dials rocketed upward to the show their near-unanimous approval of Cruz’s breakout moment.
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