On Monday night, Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, respectively, but only one arose victorious. Let’s compare the chats, shall we?

Stephen Colbert, Ted Cruz and the Ghost of Ronald Reagan

Still new on his Late Show platform, Colbert did not go easy on Cruz, whose every word sounded like performance art by an actor pretending to be an insincere politician. Colbert asked Cruz if he’d compromise like Reagan, the president Republicans trot out as an example of what one should do in office, by giving amnesty to illegal immigrants and raising taxes.

“Of course not,” said Cruz.

Then like a true Republican, Cruz began extolling the virtues of Reagan’s tax and government spending cuts that created “economic growth” which “unchained small businesses” and “lifted [people] out of poverty.” But Colbert countered, saying ‘Yeah, but then all that austerity didn’t work out so Reagan raised taxes because he compromised.’ “Will you be able to compromise and do something the other side wants without feeling like you’ve capitulated to the devil?” Colbert asked.

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And Cruz... never really gave an answer. So Colbert pressed him on his gay marriage stance, which Cruz acted like he wasn’t against. Odd for a man who really wanted to stand beside Kentucky clerk Kim Davis earlier this month. In fact, his talking around his personal stance on gay marriage was so convoluted the Late Show audience began to boo and Colbert had to ask for quiet.

“I don’t think we should entrust governing our society to five lawyers in Washington,” Cruz said, using his most earnest politics face. “Why would you possibly hand over the right of 320 million Americans to five lawyers in Washington to say, ‘We’re gonna decide the rules that govern you.’ If you want to win an issue, go to the ballot box and win at the ballot box, that’s the way the Constitution was designed.”

By the interview’s end, Cruz looked like an exhausted teen who’d barely passed a history quiz he wasn’t expecting—though Mike Huckabee’s aide barring him from Davis’ rally allowed him to waffle on his anti-gay marriage stance, so congrats?

Grade: C


Jimmy Fallon, Carly Fiorina and Her Doggy Styles

Jimmy just wants to have fun and Carly knew that so she prepped with sly but effective attack points on President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and fellow Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

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When Jimmy asked Fiorina about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his request to meet Trump soon, she talked about sitting next to the often topless leader for 45 minutes before they each gave speeches in Beijing some years ago.

“The two of them have a lot in common, [Trump] and Putin.… [Putin]’s a barrel chested guy and he’s proud of that,” she said. “He can be quite funny and charming, but he’s a KGB guy, we should never forget this. He’s a bad actor.”

Then she said she’d beef up American forces in the countries surrounding Russia and show strength in a way that Obama and Clinton did not. She added that she “wouldn’t talk to [Putin] at all. I think Donald Trump is wrong. I think we’ve talked way too much to Vladimir Putin.” War with Russia. LOL. What fun.

When Jimmy brought up another Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson’s anti-Muslim comments, she said that faith itself is important and the Constitution doesn’t require a faith test to be president.

And then she sang a song for her dog Snickers to the beat of “Rock Around the Clock” about how Snickers never wants to take his walk because he’s a bum, presumably an adorable bum. Jimmy and the audience clapped along, it was great television.

Fiorina knew her audience and what to expect from light-hearted Jimmy so she won but it remains to be seen how she’d fair in front of Colbert, who seems like he likes asking real questions. Can we lobby for a Late Show host to moderate the next Republican debate or nah?

Grade: A


Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.

Image via Getty.