GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Thursday that the Middle East was more secure when key dictators were still in power, and said too many Democrats and Republicans have supported toppling Middle Eastern governments to the benefit of the United States' enemies.

"Was the world, in fact, in the Middle East, a more secure place when Saddam Hussein was in power, when Moammar Gadhafi was in power, and when [Bashar] Assad wasn't fighting for his life in Syria?" asked MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.

"Of course it was," Cruz answered. "That's not even a close call."

Cruz said Gadhafi did bad things but had worked with the United States and "was actively cooperating in hunting down and stopping radical Islamic terrorists." The Texas senator said Gadhafi's ouster has turned Libya into a "chaotic warzone ruled by radical Islamic terrorists."

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