Presidential races

No Trump endorsement from Cruz: ‘Vote your conscience’

Greg Nash

CLEVELAND — Ted Cruz declined to endorse Donald Trump as the GOP nominee for president in a dramatic speech to the party’s national convention on Wednesday, urging Republicans to instead “vote your conscience.”

“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” he said, pausing for cheers from the crowd.

“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 language, which echoes statements from the Never Trump movement, triggered chants of “Trump” and “We want Trump,” as well as boos, from the crowd in Cleveland.

Cruz responded by saying, “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”

{mosads}Cruz mentioned the Republican Party’s pick for president just once, in the second line of his remarks. And it was not an endorsement.

“I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” he said.

After that, Cruz moved on to a much broader speech, making his case for conservative policies and politicians while never explicitly urging those gathered in Cleveland or watching on television to back Trump.

“We’re fighting, not for one particular candidate or one campaign, but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids … that we did our best for their future and for our country,” he said.

C-SPAN cameras cut away to Trump walking into the crowd as Cruz ended his speech. 

Cruz’s speech was perhaps the most anticipated speech of the convention thus far. The Texas senator, who came in second to Trump in this year’s GOP presidential race but is widely expected to run for the White House again, was the only convention speaker to not endorse Trump.

Further adding to the intrigue was the level of vitriol that enveloped the closing days of the GOP primary campaign. Trump labeled Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” falsely accused his father of being involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, and threatened to “spill the beans” on Cruz’s wife, Heidi.

In turn, Cruz called Trump a “sniveling coward,” a “pathological liar” and a “narcissist at a level that I don’t think this country has ever seen.”

Cruz called on Americans to vote their conscience just days after GOP delegates fiercely opposed to Trump’s candidacy made a last-ditch effort to stymie his nomination.

Before the full convention began, the party Rules Committee rejected language offered by Never Trump Republicans that would have freed delegates to vote for any candidate rather than being bound to follow the results of the primary elections.

That language was described as a “conscience clause.”

While discussing freedom, Cruz at times veered close to a critiquing Trump as a candidate.

“We deserve leaders who stand for principle. Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love,” he said. “That is the standard we should expect, from everybody.”

Cruz opened his remarks by referencing the recent Dallas shooting that left five police officers dead and another nine wounded. He also mentioned the recent attacks in Orlando, Fla.; Nice, France; and Baton Rouge, La., to provide a stern warning to the public.

“What if this, right now, is our last time? Our last moment to do something for our families and our country? Did we live up to our values? Did we do all we could?” he said. “That’s really what elections should be about.”

Keeping with the broad message, Cruz spent little time directly attacking Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, a stark contrast to many of the convention’s speeches that were exclusively aimed at her.

Cruz made mention of Clinton and President Obama, primarily as an opening to attack their policies and make the case for a conservative alternative.

“Of course, Obama and Clinton will tell you that they also care about our children’s future. And I want to believe them,” he said. “But there is a profound difference in our two parties’ visions for the future.”

At the same time, Cruz made efforts to reach beyond partisanship. In addition to referring to the slain officers in Dallas, Cruz praised the family of Alton Sterling, a black man recently shot by police in Baton Rouge, for urging an end to violence.

“We must make the most of our moment — to fight for freedom, to protect our God-given rights, even of those with whom we don’t agree,” he said toward the end of his remarks.

Tags Donald Trump GOP convention Hillary Clinton Ted Cruz
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