Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was greeted with a chorus of boos and his wife had to be escorted out by security as he delivered a speech at Wednesday night's Republican National Convention in which he refused to offer an endorsement of the party's nominee Donald Trump.
Cruz mentioned Trump's name only once during his speech, and that was to say, "I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night."
The crowd was initially receptive to Cruz, cheering enthusiastically as he laid out the parts of his vision for America that jibe with Trump's, but they turned angry as it became clear he was not going to offer an endorsement.
As the crowd began yelling, "We want Trump! We want Trump!" Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia and Cruz supporter, told Reuters he escorted Heidi Cruz off the convention floor for her own safety. CNN reported that people were shouting insults at her.
"During the course of the speech, more and more people were coming down closer and closer to Heidi and (Ted Cruz's father) Rafael," Cuccinelli said. "When the speech ended, there was an ugly crowd behind us. ... She was trying to leave."
A witness said one person shouted: "Goldman Sachs" at Heidi Cruz in reference to her employment at the investment bank.
Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly reported that people were telling Cruz he was a "disgrace" to his face as he left the convention hall.
Naturally, Trump weighed in himself on Twitter:
Fox News' Tucker Carlson said afterward that if Cruz didn't want to endorse Trump in his speech he shouldn't have made it at the convention. The whole speech will end up robbing vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's speech, which should have led Thursday's news cycle, of the attention it deserved, a panel on MSNBC noted.
MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Cruz was given 10 minutes, but went 13 over, effectively snubbing the nominee.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NBC News it was an "awful, selfish speech" and that Cruz "showed himself tonight to not be a man of his word."
CNN reported that one state party chairman was so angrily yelling
at Cruz that he had to be physically restrained.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich attempted to mend fences
when he took the stage later, saying he thought some of the delegates misinterpreted Cruz's call for people to vote their "conscience" in November.
Cruz, according to Gingrich, "said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution. In this election there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution. To paraphrase Ted Cruz, the only possible candidate in the fall is the Pence/Trump Republican ticket."
Former Trump campaign official Corey Lewandowski told CNN Cruz committed "political suicide." Lewandowski said Mr. Trump acted like an adult, while Sen. Cruz 'behaved like a baby' and the RNC should not endorse him if he chooses to run again in 2020.
Cruz, who as a Tea Party conservative in the U.S. Senate, spearheaded tactics that led to a government shutdown over the federal budget, called the New York real estate developer a "serial philanderer" and a "narcissist" during the campaign.
A Cruz adviser who asked to remain anonymous said Cruz had anticipated a backlash from the crowd if he did not endorse Trump.
"We knew people were going to be mad if he didn't say the words, but he congratulated him and called for unity behind common values. He expected people to not be thrilled about this" the adviser said.
Trump won the nomination on Tuesday with 1,725 delegates, followed by Cruz with 475 delegates.
Another Trump rival vanquished in the race for the party nomination, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, spoke by video and praised Trump for his commitments to safeguarding national security, lowering taxes and appointing conservative Supreme Court justices.
"The time for fighting each other is over. It's time to fight for a new direction for America. It's time to win in November," Rubio said.
After his opening remarks, Cruz launched into speech that sounded as much like it could be a speech for his own renewed White House effort in 2020 as an endorsement of the 2016 nominee.
Clearly still stung by the campaign in which Trump dubbed him "Lyin' Ted," insulted his wife's appearance and suggested his father, Cuban immigrant Raphael Cruz, was part of a conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy, Cruz still urged Republicans unhappy with Trump's nomination not to stay home on November 8.
"Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience," he said. "Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."
One fear among Republicans is that people disaffected with Trump's nomination may not vote at all, hurting the party in House, Senate and state and local races.
Though not attributing the policies to Trump, Cruz said the United States deserves an immigration system that "puts America first. And yes, builds a wall to keep us safe."
Still, Trump managed to grab screen time in TV coverage as cameras cut to him entering Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena shortly into Cruz's speech in which he called for stopping Islamic State terrorists entering the U.S. as refugees and for instituting trade practices that save American jobs.
Before the speech was over, the crowd began shouting "We want Trump! "We want Trump!"
Cruz acknowledged the shouts, replying, "I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation."
But the shouts continued, as Cruz finished out the speech, and Trump sat with his family to watch his son Eric speak next.
Even before the brouhaha, Cruz acknowledged the differences in the party.
"We stand here tonight a nation divided. Partisan rancor, anger, even hatred are tearing America apart," he said. "And citizens are furious — rightly furious —at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises and ignores the will of the people.
"This is madness," Cruz said, saying, "President Obama is a man who does everything backwards – he wants to close Guantanamo Bay and open up our borders, he exports jobs and imports terrorists."
Cruz's speech drew wild applause, though several shots of Trump's children seated in the crowd showed them politely listening, while not joining in on the raucous cheers and applause.
Alluding to Sen. Bernie Sanders' run against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Cruz said "something powerful" is happening in both parties in an overwhelming rejection of big government.
"We’ve seen it in the United Kingdom’s unprecedented Brexit vote to leave the European Union," he said.
Republicans, he said, recognize "diversity," in allowing local and state governments to make their own decisions in laws that reflect their own values.
"Colorado may decide something different than Texas. New York different than Iowa," he said. "If not, what's the point of having states to begin with?"
Reuters contributed to this report.
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