The agonizing GOP split between the traditional conservatism embraced by Sen. Ted Cruz and the America-first populism embodied by Donald Trump has come into sharp focus after Cruz's brazen signal of no-confidence in the party's standard-bearer.
"Please, don't stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution," Cruz urged in a speech
that drew jeers and condemnation.
Cruz also urged the party to stick with his brand of conservatism.
"We deserve leaders who stand for principle," he urged. "Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody."
Some Republicans saw the address as a vote of no-confidence in Trump — and a "colossal error" that could only hurt GOP unity in taking on Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Former Florida Sen. George LeMieux tells The Wall Street Journal
that Cruz's decision, ironically, only hurt him "with the grass roots."
And Matt Schultz, the former Iowa secretary of state who was the chairman of Cruz's Iowa campaign, said he's backing Trump and expects most of the Cruz coalition to do so as well.
"To protect the Supreme Court, we have to vote for Donald Trump," Schultz told the Journal. "Even Ted understands that to protect this country, we need someone other than Hillary Clinton appointing Supreme Court justices."
A Cruz adviser, however, tells Reuters
the Texas senator anticipated a backlash.
"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 tells the news agency.
After Cruz's bombshell speech, it was left to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in his first delivery as Trump's running mate, to try to heal the bitter rift — and at least, "papered it over," Time
But there were rumblings even before the speech that there'd be no quick fix for the stubborn gap between traditional conservatives and Trump populists, including from radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, who urged holdouts — like the Bushes, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Cruz — to fall in line.
"Even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos… you must honor your pledge to support Donald Trump now," she declared.
Cruz's former campaign manager Jeff Roe warns conservatives will be judging Trump by his actions.
"We have another 115 days to figure it out," he tells the Canadian Press.
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