CLEVELAND — Sen. Ted Cruz doubled down on declining to endorse Donald Trump Thursday, but said he doesn't plan to vote for Hillary Clinton.
The 2016 runner-up took questions from an angry Texas delegation in a hotel ballroom in downtown Cleveland the morning after he refused to back the party's nominee in a divisive speech to the Republican National Convention.
Cruz acknowledged that his decision was at least partly personal, saying, "I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father."
But members of the Texas delegation pushed back, arguing that he made a pledge to support the GOP nominee and asking why he hasn't stuck to his word.
"That pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, that I'm going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father," Cruz said.
Still, Cruz said he didn't encourage anyone to write his name in in November.
"I am not a candidate in this race," he said. He added that he doesn't plan to vote for Clinton but he won't pledge to vote for Trump.
Cruz's speech last night, which caused the Quicken Loans Arena to break into boos, also disappointed many members of his own delegation.
"The party has spoken," one of them said during a Q&A with the former candidate. "You signed a pledge."
Cruz says he sees his speech last night as a "road map" for how to win in November, adding that if the message of the party is more about freedom than it is about Trump, the GOP will prevail. He added that if "voting your conscience" is not consistent with "supporting the nominee," then Republicans are not going to win the general election.
Still, he added that he isn't going to just "sit down and shut up" and support Republicans' nominee no matter what.
"Anytime you stand up, leadership screams, support the team, you're a Republican, we're the leadership, sit down, shut up," Cruz said. "If that's the price, I ain't gonna do it. I'm going to honor the commitment I made to the voters instead."
After Cruz's remarks, a few members of the delegation were heard yelling in the hall: "He's a traitor" and "He's a liar."
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