Speed Reads

2016 Watch

Ted Cruz's greatest debate foe: humor

Years before wowing tea party Republicans with his spirited assaults on big government, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was a ballyhooed speaker on the college debate circuit.

Known for his "arsenal of rhetorical skills and theatrical gestures," according to a New York Times feature on the 2016 candidate's college career, Cruz often excelled in competition. But for all his oratorical gifts, Cruz could still quite easily be derailed by a little unexpected levity.

But Mr. Goolsbee and other top debaters on the circuit who frequently beat Mr. Cruz discovered it was easy to get under his skin, especially with humor. "It would unravel him," Mr. Goolsbee said.

In one round, Mr. Goolsbee pointed out that the story of Mr. Cruz's father coming to America, as compelling as it sounded, was not entirely relevant to, say, the federal deficit.

"How dare you insult my father!" Mr. Cruz replied. [The New York Times]

Here's to hoping a debate moderator sneaks in a knock knock joke, if only to see how Cruz handles it.