CLEVELAND, OHIO — In a highly-anticipated speech to the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) congratulated Donald Trump for securing the GOP nomination for president, but stopped short of endorsing him.
As his speech drew to a close, the thousands of delegates who had sat in respectful silence and cheered for Cruz minutes earlier began booing, screaming, giving thumbs down, and chanting “endorse Trump” and “say his name.” Cruz jokingly acknowledged the angry noises coming from the front-row New York delegation, but never offered the Trump endorsement they sought.
Around the hall, delegates vented their fury.
— Kira Lerner (@kira_lerner) July 21, 2016
South Carolina delegate Cindy Costa maintained a tense smile on her face as her husband leaped onto his chair and screamed at Cruz.
“We were hoping [Cruz] would do the right thing, but he didn’t. That’s his bad,” she told ThinkProgress. “At the very first debate, when he was asked if he’d support the nominee, he said he would. This shows he is not true to his word. He’s not a truth-teller.”
As he made the rounds at the RNC this week, Cruz indicated he’s open to another presidential run in 2020. But Costa predicted the non-endorsement of Trump during a time of uncertainty for the Republican Party will “absolutely” hurt Cruz’s political future.
“He had a grand opportunity to help us coalesce, and he didn’t take it,” she lamented.
Yet other delegates said they were proud of Cruz for refusing to back Trump.
Texas delegate Nicholas Allman, a leader of the state’s College Republicans, told ThinkProgress that the decision was “perhaps a rejection of demagoguery as a campaign tactic and an endorsement of values and rules and classical liberal ideology.”
Allman, who hovered on the edge of the convention floor wearing the cowboy hat required of all Texas delegates, said while he voted for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in the Republican primary, Cruz had impressed him by withholding his endorsement.
“That took some serious serious guts,” he said. “A huge percentage of the crowd was booing. And if Donald Trump does become president, he’s going to be a powerful man, and he’s not going to forgive Cruz for doing this to him.”
As Allman and other delegates observed, Cruz’s speech itself had a decidedly un-Trumpian flavor. He called on delegates to “cast aside anger for love” and “vote your conscience.”
As the crowd railed against Cruz, some also directed their anger at his wife Heidi.
HEIDI CRUZ escorted out by security as crowd gets angry at Cruz for his speech. One Trump supporter shouting "Goldman Sachs!" at her
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 21, 2016
And while many of the delegates vented their anger spontaneously, Time reported that the Trump campaign also had a hand in whipping up the crowd’s reaction.
Things got ugly between Trump and Cruz in the final months of the Republican primary, and Wednesday night suggests the two have not yet reconciled. At the nadir of their feud, Trump retweeted a meme suggesting that Cruz’s wife Heidi is unattractive. He later suggested Cruz’s dad might’ve been responsible for assassinating JFK. But through it all, Cruz vowed to abide by a promise he and all the other non-Trump candidates made in the summer of 2015 to support whomever ended up winning the Republican nomination.