Members of Texas' convention delegation grew heated Thursday morning when Sen. Ted Cruz, the morning after he was roundly booed for not endorsing Donald Trump from the Republican National Convention stage, insisted that he didn't say a "single negative word" about the GOP nominee, and he doesn't intend to.
They cheered him when he insisted he won't vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but the cheers turned to jeers from many in the room when he would not commit to an endorsement for Trump, while admitting that in part his decision may be personal.
"I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father," Cruz told the delegation, referring to Trump's retweeting a post that ridiculed wife Heidi's looks and for Trump insinuating that his father had something to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
"That pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander my wife that I am going to come like a servile puppy dog for maligning my wife and maligning my father," he continued.
Some of the delegates continued to applaud Cruz's talking points, but others broke into cheers of "USA, USA," after one of the delegates, Geraldine Sam of Lamarque, Texas, demanded to know why Cruz pledged to support the eventual nominee, but now refuses to do so.
"If you're not a man of your word, what are you, then?" she demanded to know, telling him that she turned her back to him when he walked onto the convention stage, "because you lied to me. And don't take my vote for granted because you lied to me. I came to this convention as a Cruz delegate and I'm leaving supporting Donald Trump as the party nominee. "
Cruz, though, told the delegates that what he said Wednesday and what he is sticking with is encouraging people to vote for leaders who will "do what they say and stand by their principles."
"I assume the Trump campaign wanted me to speak," said Cruz. "They saw my speech several hours before I gave it. They knew exactly what I was going to say. I believe they wanted me to speak because they believed it would encourage people to come out and vote. If they didn't, I was perfectly happy to get on plane and go home."
And, he said he asked conservatives at home and Republicans to go out and vote for "candidates that you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."
The election, he said, is "about principles and ideals and about standing for what we believe in. And, I have to say, it was somewhat dismaying that apparently some of Donald's biggest partisans, when they heard you should vote for someone you can trust, defend the Constitution, they immediately began booing."
While Cruz would not say if he will vote for Trump, he also insisted he will never cast a vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"I am doing what millions of Americans are doing," he said. "I am watching. I'm listening and the standard that I intend to apply is which candidate I trust to defend our freedom and be faithful to the Constitution."
And Clinton, he said, "fails that test profoundly, and I will note a significant part of my speech last night was laying out the incredible damage of Hillary Clinton's vision."
Cruz said, though, he's watching Trump carefully.
"I've laid out the standard," Cruz told the delegates. "I will be listening to how he and the campaign conducts themselves every day from now until November. That's what I believe the American people will be doing also. The way to win, as I tried with all my might, is not to just scream and yell and attack as traitor anyone that would dare question our candidates."
He said he believes that holding candidates responsible applies to everyone, and he does not intend to "go out and throw rocks at Donald."
"I intend, like a voter, like all of us, just to listen and make the best judgment I can," said Cruz.
"Every one of us has to follow our conscience when friends of mine, supporters of mine are asking what to do. Follow your conscience. Do what you believe is right."
Cruz admitted that there are many options that he could have taken, including to "turn tail" and not go to the convention. "Let me tell you the politically easy option is to stand up and pledge your allegiance. That's the right political outcome . . . I'm not going to lie to you. What I said last night is what I believe."
Cruz also told one of the delegates that moving forward, he'd suggest that Trump listen to his speech to understand how to move forward, as he outlined his criteria in his convention speech.
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