CLEVELAND, Ohio—Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) did not endorse Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, during his remarks Wednesday evening at the Republican National Convention, despite chants on the convention floor calling on him to back the party’s candidate.
Cruz, who was the second-to-last Republican candidate for president to drop out of the primary, congratulated Trump on winning the nomination early in his speech. As it became evident during his remarks that he would withhold his support for Trump, members of the crowded began to chant, "Endorse Trump, endorse Trump!"
"I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation," Cruz said, as video screens in the arena began to experience glitches, flickering. Cruz encouraged the audience to "vote your conscience" in November.
Trump entered the arena at the end of Cruz’s speech, causing the cameras to cut away from the Texas senator as he concluded. The Republican National Committee immediately cut to a video of Eric Trump, the candidate’s son, following the speech.
The primary race became nasty between the two candidates when Trump began targeting Cruz’s wife Heidi on social media in response to an advertisement circulated by an anti-Trump Super PAC featuring a photograph of Trump’s wife Melania posing nude. Trump also suggested that Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Cruz was under pressure to endorse Trump ahead of Wednesday’s events. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump supporter and former presidential candidate who was once considered to be a frontrunner for the vice presidential nomination, told CNN that Cruz would be "less of a person" if he did not endorse Trump.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Trump’s vice presidential choice, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, also delivered remarks later Wednesday night, though they were overshadowed by Cruz’s speech.
Gingrich said the crowd "misunderstood" Cruz’s recommendation that they vote their conscience and cast ballots for the candidate they trust to defend the Constitution because, he insisted, Trump is the only choice who will do so.
Pence, the final speaker, accepted the vice presidential nomination that he formally received on Tuesday. He described the Republican Party as "united" around Trump and praised the candidate’s foreign and domestic policy proposals.
"We cannot have four more years apologizing to our enemies and abandoning our friends," he said. "On the world stage, Donald Trump will lead from strength."
Trump emerged on stage to shake hands with Pence at the conclusion of his speech but did not speak.
Cruz wasn’t the only former 2016 presidential candidate to speak during primetime on Wednesday. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was once thought to be a favorite for the nomination before he dropped out early in the primary race, also spoke, urging the crowd to support Trump over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Walker originally endorsed Cruz ahead of the Wisconsin primary in April.
Walker drew a contrast between Trump and Clinton by casting the former as an outsider and blaming "liberal Washington insiders" like Clinton for the economic and security problems America faces today.
"Hillary Clinton is the ultimate liberal Washington insider. If she were any more on the ‘inside,’ she’d be in prison. America deserves better than Hillary Clinton," Walker said. "That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need to support Donald Trump and Mike Pence for president and vice president."
"Last August, I said that any of the Republicans running would be better than Hillary Clinton. I meant it then, and I mean it now. So let me be clear: a vote for anyone other than Donald Trump in November is a vote for Hillary Clinton," the Wisconsin governor continued.
The primetime program also featured a brief video from Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), who said he was not able to attend the convention in person because of the demands of his own Senate reelection campaign.
In the recorded message, Rubio faulted Clinton for being a "key figure in implementing Barack Obama’s disastrous foreign policy" and recognized Trump for taking the threat of Islamic terrorism seriously and committing to rebuilding the U.S. military.
"The time for fighting each other is over," Rubio said. "It’s time to win in November."
Trump was officially nominated in a state-by-state roll call on Tuesday evening, though some delegates opposed his nomination. Trump is set to deliver remarks on Thursday, the final night of the convention, though he already made a surprise appearance on stage of the Quicken Loans arena when introducing Melania ahead of her remarks on Monday.
The Trump campaign has been pushing back against criticism after Melania plagiarized Michelle Obama’s remarks at the 2008 Democratic National Convention during her remarks. A Trump Organization speechwriter on Wednesday took the blame for the incident, describing it as inadvertent in a statement.
Meredith McIver, the writer, said that she offered her resignation to the Trump family, and that the family had declined to part ways.
Update 11:19 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comments from the speeches of Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich.
Published under: 2016 Election , Donald Trump , Ted Cruz