Ted Cruz passes on endorsing Trump
Speech writer tries to resign
CLEVELAND — Boos filled the convention hall in Cleveland as one-time presidential candidate Ted Cruz finished his prime-time speech to Republican activists.
The jeers rained down after the Texas senator refused to endorse Trump — now the official GOP presidential nominee — in his address Wednesday night.
Cruz finished second to Trump in the delegate count and the two were bitter rivals during the primary campaign.
Cruz told supporters to vote their conscience — and not to stay home for the general election in November.
The boos stopped once Trump entered the convention hall.
To chants of “2020, 2020,” Cruz earlier in the day left open the possibility of a second White House run even as Donald Trump arrived in Cleveland to accept the GOP presidential nomination.
“I don’t know what the future is going to hold. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cruz told his rowdy supporters, many of them cheering another bid. “But what I do know what remains unshakable is my faith in the men and women here.”
The freshman lawmaker has Texassize political ambitions. Trump, his bitter primary rival, often mocked him as “Lyin’ Ted.” With an eye toward 2020, Cruz’s team drafted a convention speech focusing on adherence to the Constitution, a calling card for conservatives and a perceived contrast with Trump.
Meanwhile, with Donald Trump’s campaign reeling from charges of plagiarism, a speech writer for his company took the blame and offered to resign
over nearly identical passages from Melania Trump’s Republican convention speech and Michelle Obama’s remarks eight years ago.
The speech writer, however, made it clear that Melania Trump knew that the passages she read to an enthralled convention Monday night had come from Michelle Obama.
“A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama,” the speech writer, Meredith McIver, said of Mrs. Trump in a statement Wednesday from the campaign. “Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.”
Donald Trump rejected McIver’s resignation. “She’s a terrific person,” he told ABC News. “She just made a mistake.”
The controversy hung over the opening days of the GOP convention, overshadowing Mrs. Trump’s performance, which was warmly received by those in the convention hall.
Iowa delegate Cecil Stinemetz called Trump “the worst nominee that we have put forward for the Republican Party in the history of the Republican Party” and said he didn’t plan to return to the convention floor the rest of the week.
Cruz, a former presidential candidate, had been similarly tough on Trump during the waning weeks of their primary battle, calling the businessman a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.” Taking the stage shortly after Cruz, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to explain away the senator’s lack of support for the nominee.
“Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution,” he said. “In this election there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution.”
Speakers at the convention have painted an apocalyptic vision of America if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins and have aggressively challenged her character.
While Clinton has been a target of GOP ire for decades, the harshness of the attacks was still striking.
Former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson connected Clinton with Lucifer. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie implored delegates to shout “Guilty!” in response to various accusations of wrongdoing. At multiple points throughout the first two nights of speeches, the crowd started chanting, “Lock her up.”
For at least some delegates, the negativity crossed a line.
“What happened to professionalism, manners and humanity in our politicians and citizens?” said Bill Pickle, a South Carolina delegate.
Trump has shown little concern for maintaining any modicum of political decorum. Yet Mike Pence, the Indiana governor and Trump’s new political partner, has spoken out against negative campaigning and was put on the Republican ticket in part to provide a temperamental contrast.
Campaign officials see Trump’s running mate’s address as a moment to solidify party unity. In his speech, Pence swore off negative campaigning. But the Indiana governor was really going after Clinton in his GOP convention speech Wednesday night.
Pence says Democrats are going with a stale agenda and the most predictable candidate.
Pence was playing on one of Trump’s most well-known catchphrase. He says that under Trump, change in the country will be “huge.”
Pence said that Republicans will retake the presidency in November because they’re being honest with Americans about the stakes in the election — and the choice facing voters. Pence also said Clinton will never serve as president.