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“Vote your conscience:” Ted Cruz booed off stage at RNC after failing to endorse Trump

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CLEVELAND -- Ted Cruz sensationally withheld an endorsement of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, earning a chorus of boos from the floor before he was upstaged in a power play by the GOP nominee himself.

In a dramatic development, as Cruz wrapped up his speech, Trump suddenly appeared in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He walked to join his family in a VIP area and flashed a thumbs-up -- a gesture that transmitted clear anger at the Texas senator's behavior.

Cruz, his party's runner-up, uttered Trump's name just once -- to congratulate him -- and instead pitched the ideological brand of conservatism that endears him to the GOP's base.

"I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night," Cruz said. "And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November."

But as it was clear Cruz was going to end his speech without endorsing Trump, delegates began to boo and some chanted "We want Trump!"

"Don't stay in home in November," Cruz said toward the end of his otherwise very well-received speech. "Stand and speak and vote your conscience."

As delegates began to protest, Sen. Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, was heckled by Trump supporters shouting "Goldman Sachs!" and escorted out by security. Heidi Cruz, who is an employee of Goldman Sachs, declined to answer questions from reporters, saying, "I don't talk to the media, thanks."

The stunning political theater between the top two contenders in the Republican primary race blew open divisions in the party that the convention is designed to heal, and suggested Cruz believes Trump will lose in November.

Cruz's appearance at the Cleveland convention had been the subject of intense anticipation over his attitude toward Trump, after their intensely personal exchanges in the late stages of the primary race.

He got a prolonged standing ovation as he walked on stage for a speech that appeared to be an attempt to establish himself as the guardian of conservative values that some activists doubt Trump shares.

Cruz's rebuke ignited a hot scene around the senator as soon as he left the stage. People averted their eyes from Cruz and his wife as they walked with their security detail on the skybox level of boisterous Republicans.

On the donor suite level, people approached Cruz and insulted him, a source told CNN's Dana Bash. One state party chairman reacted so angrily that he had to be restrained.

The reaction from the floor was also swift and harsh.

Newt Gingrich, appearing after Cruz, argued that Cruz's advocacy for constitutionalism meant that he, implicitly, endorsed Trump -- words he himself did not say.

"So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution this fall, there's only one possible way and that's to vote the Trump-Pence ticket."

Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Arkansas, walked off the floor after Cruz's speech.

"He's self-centered. It's all about Ted Cruz. All he did is ruin his political career," Barnett said. "I think he's finished."

Barnett said this is not the kind of grace one shows their party's nominee: "Reagan wouldn't have done that. He endorsed Ford."

Arizona delegate Bruce Ash expressed a similar sentiment.

"Cruz missed his moment. All he had to do was say 'Trump' and he used the dog whistle for 'conscience.' A very disappointing message," Ash texted.

Wes Brumit, a Cruz delegate from Texas, defended Cruz's non-endorsement.

"He did mention all the points Trump mentioned: building a wall, fighting ISIS. He just didn't come right out and endorse," said Bumit, who sported a red "Ted Cruz for President" T-shirt and a cowboy hat. "He said everyone should be able to vote their conscience. And that's OK with me."

As for those who loudly booed Cruz? "All the boos were exactly the New York values that Ted has talked about."

Bumit added: "I think Mr. Trump has some things to apologize for to Cruz before Sen Cruz can come onboard fully for Trump."

The remarkable moment at the convention was the second time Cruz was upstaged by Trump Wednesday.

At a rally on the Cleveland waterfront, as Cruz spoke gingerly to fellow Republicans about "our nominee" and the uncertain future under his former rival, Trump's plane flew in the clear skies behind him.

"That was pretty well orchestrated" Cruz said as the Trump-emblazoned aircraft buzzed through the air and the crowd booed.

Turning to his campaign manager, Jeff Roe, Cruz said, "Jeff, did you email them to fly the plane right when I said that?"

11 comments

  • Michael Neils

    Sounds like Cruz WANTS hillary to win. This country canNOT take another 4 years of hateful division, which is called political correctness by the left. Working people cannot pay anymore in taxes income, property or otherwise to support “the children” , the people who REFUSE to work. The murders of cops. The senseless “family quarrels” in the inner cities that result in death by the gun toting hands of a felon. A vote for hillary is a vote for felons and the lazy. Trump may not be the best, but he is the best we have. Remember if he doesn’t work out, he can be impeached. Just because it doesn’t work on democrats doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work on a republican.

    • JokeEnthusiast

      You want people to vote for Trump with the caveat of if it doesn’t work out he can be impeached? Haha!

      I can’t wait for November. Hell, let’s have the election right now so I don’t have to hear the worhtless election coverage anymore.

      • Michael Neils

        No that’s not what I am saying. I am saying if he doesn’t do a good job, or has issues he can be impeached. Clinton should have been, Obama should have been-yet both got re-elected to 2nd terms. It doesn’t work that way for republicans. ie: Nixon. I am sick and tired of supporting the lazy, the felons and the kid after kid after kid because their daddies are addicts or in jail and the mommies too. I am sick of people faking SSI. Those monies are supposed to help out the temporarily unemployed, the truly challenged and the elderly. Trump claims to be able to change that. It would be nice to see SOMEONE actually try, despite the hurt feelings and gnashing of teeth.

      • JokeEnthusiast

        Clinton was impeached and was acquitted. Don’t forget Andrew Johnson (Republican), who was also impeached and acquitted. Nixon was going to be impeached, but resigned before it could happen. People talk about impeaching Obama, but I don’t know what for. People also talked about impeaching Bush, with similar vague reasons.

        You’re sick of some things. I get it. You’re more anti-Clinton (Dems) than a strong supporter of Trump it seems. The Dems tried that in ’04 with Kerry and it didn’t work. It isn’t gonna work in ’16 either.

        Look to ’20, hopefully you have a better candidate to vote for then.

  • Mark Deprez

    I don’t think the “idiots” at CNN where watching the same Ted Cruz speech as I was !!!!!!!!!! BOOED off the stage… where the HELL was I when this happened.

  • Mess 1

    It seems to me like Mr Cruz and Mr Cassick are pouty that they didnt win and are holding grudge as they said things nasty as well about mr Trump it seems more a sport of who can put one another down more than a Presidential election . They do not Honor their word to endorse as many of the others have so I feel we will find out who is true to their word. one wouldnt need someone not true to their word in the White House leading the country .

  • Mom

    Iam listening now.. and have heard nothing in this very well done speech that gives me the idea this is a bad man.. who ever wrote this speech should be given a gold star… Trump walks though and gives a smile and thumbs up to several in the crowd Good Job… there are tears in the crowd…this is a respectfull crowd of degates…and as this speech starts to wind down the crowd still stops and remains silent to listen.. this is a great speech for so many reasons… Please Don’t Stay Home in Nov …. the NY delgates did the endorse trump.. 23 minutes in to the speech and there are no boos… ends the speech with the children of Dallas TX to Fight for Freedom and God Given Rights are Protected… some of the crowd is noisey by most are listening…25 minutes loud crowd but he had a great speech. Defend and Faithfull and he gets a hooting roar of connetion and Trump is clapping..

  • Michael Neils

    I still think none of the above should be an option on the Nov ballot and if none of the above wins we start over with new people. I’m just not comfy with any of the ideas, goals on any of the sides this time around. I keep saying these are the choices? and hear crickets. For me, voting in Nov will be essentially pulling the trigger. Hopefully it will be just a flesh wound.

  • Rick Fuller

    He did NOT get booed off stage! He finished his speech. He was ON the stage and they boo when he said vote your conscience but he was NOT booed off.
    Get your facts straight.

  • Sandy

    That took guts. Ted Cruz the something Trump will never be. Ted dondon’t sell out. Trump insulted his wife and his father ! Who would expect him to endorse? He stood up for his wife and he will get my vote if he runs for president any man that stands up for his family will stand up for the nation.

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