Ted Cruz booed at RNC after declining to endorse Donald Trump

ted-cruz-convention

CLEVELAND — The official theme of the penultimate night of the Republican National Convention was supposed to be “Make America First Again.”

And Ted Cruz didn’t disagree.

He just disagreed that putting Donald Trump first was the best way to do it.

In an emotional, precedent-shattering address Wednesday, Trump’s vanquished primary rival followed his own conscience — and pursued his own agenda — by refusing to endorse his party’s newly minted nominee while implicitly putting himself forward as an alternative party leader should Trump crash and burn in November.

For days the media buzzed about whether Cruz would show support for Trump. But after a primary in which the tycoon mocked him as “Lyin’ Ted” and linked his father — erroneously — to Lee Harvey Oswald, Cruz couldn’t bring himself to do it.

The most Cruz could muster was a curt congratulations.

“I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” Cruz said 20 seconds into his speech. He went on to add — in a line that wasn’t part of his prepared remarks — that, “like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes in prevail in November.”

Not the nominee. The principles. Cruz didn’t mention Trump again.

Cruz didn’t back down. In an apparent allusion to the failed, months-long campaign by some of his supporters to free the GOP delegates to “vote their consciences” in Cleveland, Cruz urged “those listening” not to “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 said.

The message was unmistakable: It’s OK if you can’t stomach the thought of voting for Trump. Vote for true conservatives instead.

Attendees react as Texas Sen. and former Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz speaks during the third day of the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo: David Maxwell/EPA)
Attendees react as Texas Sen. and former Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz speaks during the third day of the 2016 Republican National Convention. (Photo: David Maxwell/EPA)

Right beneath Cruz’s podium, the delegation from New York — Trump’s home state — howled in disgust.

“Endorse Trump! Endorse Trump!” they shouted. “Go home Ted!”

“I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” Cruz said as the jeers grew louder and louder.

Then, in a twist out of reality TV, Trump himself emerged from the wings, joining his family in the VIP box across the arena. He stood erect, glaring at Cruz.

All at once on the floor, thousands of delegates pivoted toward their nominee, as if pulled by some sort of gravitational force.

“Thank you,” Cruz said. “And may God bless the United States of America.”

The delegates booed. Cruz’s speech was over. Their backs were turned toward him.
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