CLEVELAND — Sen. Ted Cruz did little to unify the Republican Party Wednesday night.
The 2016 runner-up and primary opponent to GOP nominee Donald Trump finished his speech Wednesday night without an endorsement, prompting angry jeers from the crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Texas senator went from an enthusiastic reception to almost being booed off the stage as the mostly pro-Trump Republican National Convention attendees gradually began to realize that Cruz wouldn’t endorse their nominee in his convention speech.
“Please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz told viewers watching on television, prompting cheers from the crowd. “If you love our country and love our children as much as I know that you do, 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.”
The crowd realized what was happening and started to chant, “Trump, Trump” in response.
Cruz let them cheer for a while, then responded dismissively: “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”
Earlier in the speech, Cruz congratulated Trump on his official nomination, but stopped short of telling his supporters to vote for the billionaire.
“I want to 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.”
Cruz’s speech focused heavily on the future, including lines aimed at reaching out to the LGBT community and disillusioned Republicans unhappy with the state of the party. Earlier today, Trump’s former campaign manager signaled to reporters that Cruz is likely to run for president again in 2020 — assuming Trump loses in November — or after.
As Cruz wrapped up his speech without an endorsement, the crowd booed harder than ever before.
Cruz was expected to speak for 10 minutes, but ended up speaking for 23.
Trump campaign expected Cruz to talk for 10 minutes. Cruz' prepared remarks went 9 minutes. He spoke for 23 minutes.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) July 21, 2016
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