Cruz gets booed after he declines to endorse Trump
The Texas firebrand urges Republicans to vote their conscience in prime-time address.
Ted Cruz got a prime speaking slot at Donald Trump’s Republican Nation Convention on Wednesday, but he came and went from the stage without endorsing the party’s newly minted nominee.
The Texas senator not only failed to endorse Trump at any point during his 23-minute remarks, he also encouraged Republicans to “vote their conscience.”
“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said, a plea that suggested he was about to endorse Trump.
But he didn’t: “If you love our country and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience,” Cruz said. “Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom andto be faithful to the Constitution.”
When it became clear that Cruz was not was not offering a direct endorsement, the crow broke out in boos that continued for the balance of Cruz’s remarks, shouting “We want Trump” as Cruz wrapped his speech.
And that wasn’t the only interruption. Toward the end of Cruz’s remarks, Trump himself made a previously un-announced entrance into the arena, prompting cheers and pulling the attention away from the main stage.
Republicans were livid with Cruz for declining to endorse. Mississippi state Rep. Becky Currie blasted Cruz, calling him “stupid” after proving that he “apparently only thinks of himself.”
“If he came here to really unite the party, he would have stood behind the candidate the people chose,” Currie, who shouted “Trump” with others in the crowd as Cruz finished his speech, told POLITICO.
Cruz had been largely silent since he returned to the Senate following a brutal primary loss to the real estate mogul in May but was given a prime-time speaking slot despite having not endorsed Trump. But his early comments signaled an imminent endorsement despite reports that it was unlikely.
“Heidi and I are so honored to join you here in Cleveland, where LeBron James just led an incredible comeback victory. And I am convinced America is going to come back, too,” Cruz said at the outset of his remarks, which came directly before those of the nominee’s son, Eric Trump.
“I want to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” he said less than two minutes in, sparking raucous applause. “And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November.”
But he soon shifted his tone, even referencing his failed White House campaign — as well as the campaigns of all the GOP primary candidates — by explaining “why you and millions like you devoted so much time and sacrifice to this campaign. We’re fighting, not for one particular candidate or one campaign, but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids … that we did our best for their future and our country.”
Cruz largely focused on his message of America flourishing under the leadership of a true constitutional conservative as he ticked through a number of conservative principles, possibly hinting at another White House run in 2020.
The Texas senator acknowledged the divisiveness that has dominated this campaign cycle, but he declined to take a step toward mending his fractured party that many Republicans had called for.
Cruz has remained one of the GOP’s most prominent holdouts even as other former Trump rivals offered tepid endorsements of the controversial Republican nominee. Cruz, the candidate who was best positioned to deny Trump the nomination, ended his campaign on bitter terms. Before a decisive loss in Indiana’s primary dealt this campaign a final blow, the Texas senator lit into Trump with a fiery, blistering rebuke.
Cruz called the real estate mogul, who branded the Texas firebrand “Lyin’ Ted,” a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer” after Trump had suggested Cruz’s father was somehow involved in John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
Even so, fellow conservatives in recent days had increased pressure on the Texas senator to fall in line behind Trump.
Cruz mocked President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, suggesting that enough is enough as he argued that Republicans offer a better vision of the future and a return to freedom. And he announced support for Trump’s border wall and two of the RNC’s convention themes.
“We stand here tonight a nation divided. Partisan rancor, anger, even hatred are tearing America apart,” Cruz said. “And citizens are furious — rightly furious — at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises and that ignores the will of the people.”
“We deserve an immigration system that puts America first, and yes, build a wall to keep America safe,” he said, sparking chants to build a wall. But he also made the most of his moment, heeding his own advice.
“We must make the most of our moments, to fight for freedom, to protect our God-given rights, even of those with whom we don’t agree, so that when we are old and gray, and when our work is done and we give those we love one final kiss good-bye, we will be able to say freedom matters and I was part of something beautiful,” he said. “The case we have to make to the American people, the case each person in this room has to make to the American people, is to commit to each of them that we will defend freedom and be faithful to the Constitution.”
“We will unite the party,” he continued. “We will unite the country by standing together for shared values, by standing for liberty.”