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VIDEO: Presidential hopefuls blame moderators for 'cage match' debate

The audience booed loudly several times – sometimes at the encouragement of the candidates.
REUTERS

Republican presidential candidates and their party leadership sharply criticized the CNBC moderators who hosted Wednesday night’s debate, and Ted Cruz said the event showed "why the American people don't trust the media".

At the conclusion of the two-hour event in Boulder, Colorado, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus derided the moderators and their questions – an unusual move for the leader of the party that sanctioned the event for candidates seeking the party's nomination for the November 2016 election.

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"While I was proud of our candidates and the way they handled tonight’s debate, the performance by the CNBC moderators was extremely disappointing and did a disservice to their network, our candidates, and voters,” Priebus said in a statement. “Our diverse field of talented and exceptionally qualified candidates did their best to share ideas for how to reinvigorate the economy and put Americans back to work despite deeply unfortunate questioning from CNBC.”

Wednesday night’s event was moderated by CNBC’s Becky Quick, John Harwood and Carl Quintanilla. The audience booed loudly at them several times – sometimes at the encouragement of the candidates.

The moderators had little tolerance for candidates trying to interject and respond to another candidate’s answer, frequently cutting off anyone who tried to chime in. That, in turn, drew more jeers from the audience and criticism from the candidates.

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Cruz, a senator from Texas, was the most heated in his criticism of the moderators after taking a question about the budget.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” he said. “This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions – 'Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?''Ben Carson, can you do math?'"

"The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, ‘Which of you is more handsome, and why?’" Cruz said.

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