Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had reportedly predicted that the Oct. 28 presidential debate, hosted by CNBC, would be "unfair." And during the debate, it didn't take long for Trump to butt heads with one of the moderators.
Trump criticized moderator John Hardwood's very first question to him during the debate, according to Politico.
“Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” Harwood asked Trump.
“No, it’s not a comic book,” the real estate mogul answered. “And it’s not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that.”
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Harwood later pressed Trump on his proposed economic policies.
Saying he had spoken to economic advisers who served presidents from both parties, Harwood told Trump, “They said you have as much chance of cutting taxes that much without increasing the deficit as you would of flying away from that podium by flapping your wings.”
While Trump didn’t address the assertion directly, he did swing back at Harwood.
“Then you would have to get rid of Larry Kudlow who sits on your panel, who is a great guy, who came out the other day and said, ‘I love Trump’s tax plan,’” Trump fired back.
Kudlow is a CNBC contributor, but he was not on the three-person panel of moderators on the night of Oct. 28.
The moderators of the GOP presidential debate were Hardwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick. And Trump wasn’t the only candidate who took exception to their lines of questioning.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that “CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled,” according to Fox News.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who took part in the debate, also expressed disappointment.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media,” he said from the stage.
“This is not a cage match,” he added. “How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?”
But Trump may have expected it all along.
"After a great evening and packed auditorium in Iowa, I am now in Colorado looking forward to what I am sure will be a very unfair debate!” the billionaire real estate developer tweeted on the morning of Oct. 28, according to an earlier story from Politico.
He followed that up with another tweet saying: “.@CNBC continues to report fictious poll numbers. Number one, based on every statistic, is Trump (by a wide margin). They just can't say it!”
Moments after walking off the debate stage, Trump sounded as if he got about what he expected.
“If you looked at Hillary's deal a couple of weeks ago, the questions were much softer, much easier, much nicer. It was like a giant love fest,” he said, according to Fox. “That did not take place over here. This was pretty tough.”
Amid the complaints of poor moderation, CNBC vice president of communications, Brian Steel, issued a single-sentence statement.
“People who want to be president of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,” Steel said, according to ABC News.