No Cruz endorsement for Trump, drama at convention

Cruz’s defiance ripped open party divisions on the summer’s biggest political stage

July 21, 2016 09:39 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:02 pm IST - CLEVELAND

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., addresses the delegates during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 20, 2016.

Senator Ted Cruz, R-Tex., addresses the delegates during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 20, 2016.

A prolonged standing ovation welcomed Senator Ted Cruz, runner up in the presidential nomination race, as he appeared on the stage to deliver a much-awaited address to the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Wednesday. As he concluded his speech without endorsing party nominee Donald Trump, the crowd booed and senior party leaders were red-faced.

Mr. Cruz told party members to vote according to their conscience in the November presidential election, and asked them “not to stay at home.” "I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night," Mr. Cruz said. "And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."

He did not mention the candidate’s name at all in the rest of his speech, in which he echoed Mr. Trump on a range of issues, such as fighting Islamic terrorism, protecting the borders of the country by “building a wall,” and destroying the “corrupt elite political establishment,” as the audience cheered him on. As he was wrapping up and when it became apparent that he might not be endorsing the candidate, the crowd began to chant, “we want Trump.” It turned into a menacing boo as the Senator walked out of the stage. Trump supporters heckled the senator’s wife, Heidi Cruz, who was escorted out by the police.

"Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!" tweeted Mr. Trump, as the divisions within the GOP dominated headlines yet again. By holding out despite nudges from many of his supporters and donors, Mr. Cruz has lived up to his reputation of being an outlier in Republican politics. As Senator he has continuously broken ranks with the party to pursue extreme agendas, accusing the Republican Congressional leadership of being part of the “corrupt Washington nexus.” By disrupting the great party to crown Mr. Trump as the nominee, Mr. Cruz has kept his eyes set on the 2020 race, but whether he would survive to run that one is an open question.

As the drama prompted by Mr. Cruz’s speech overwhelmed the coverage of the convention, former Speaker Newt Gingrich – who spoke later - offered to paraphrase the senator. "So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution this fall, there's only one possible way and that's to vote the Trump-Pence ticket," he said.

Just was Mr. Cruz was completing his address, Mr. Trump joined his family in the VIP box that is diagonally opposite to the podium. Mr. Trump showed the thumbs up to delegates on the floor, and sat through his son Eric’s speech that came later.

In the early days of the primary campaign, Mr. Cruz had tried to keep Mr. Trump in good homour, in the hope that he would drop out and support him. "He’s bold and brash, and he’s willing to speak the truth. And he’s taking on the Washington cartel," Mr. Cruz had said about Mr. Trump in July 2015, when other primary contestants were at least disapproving, if not critical, of the eventual nominee. When Mr. Trump emerged the frontrunner, Mr. Cruz his main challenger, the diatribe between the two turned vicious and personal. The animosity continues as events proved Thursday night.

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