US ELECTIONS

Ted Cruz booed at Republican National Convention after refusing to endorse Trump

Texas senator failed to support the GOP nominee, reopening old wounds within the party

Ted Cruz addresses delegates at Cleveland on Wednesday.
Ted Cruz addresses delegates at Cleveland on Wednesday.CHIP SOMODEVILLA / AFP

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So far, delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio have only booed two people: Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz. The Texas senator, who fought dirty with Donald Trump during the primaries, reopened a rift within the Republican Party on Wednesday night after he refused to endorse the New York business mogul and stormed off stage amid jeers and boos.

After initially congratulating Donald Trump for clinching the party’s nomination, Cruz delivered a long passionate speech, but without mentioning the GOP candidate again. Unlike previous speakers, he did not endorse Trump or ask Republicans to vote for him in November. Instead he delivered a lengthy list of his principles in his customary electoral campaign style.

As the minutes ticked away, his audience began to grow restless, eventually breaking out into a chant of: “Trump, Trump, Trump.” While the ultra-conservative senator urged delegates to “vote with their conscience” and stay true to their ideals, the crowd shouted and booed and continued to jeer until he left the stage. Scattered applause around the room soon faded into silence. The Republican National Convention had failed to unite the party.

Unlike previous speakers, Cruz did not endorse Trump or ask Republicans to vote for him in November. Instead he delivered a lengthy list of his principles in his customary electoral campaign style

Unlike past nominees who saved themselves for the last night of the convention, Trump has been in Cleveland almost every day. After watching Cruz’s performance, he said on Twitter: “ Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!”

Cruz and Marco Rubio were Trump’s toughest rivals during the primaries and their speeches were some of the most highly anticipated appearances at the convention. The Florida senator offered a dispassionate pledge of support to the real estate businessman in a short pre-recorded speech saying that Trump, “unlike Clinton or Obama,” will lower taxes and take the fight against terror seriously.

Both men agreed to speak at the convention, even though they had been the butt of Trump’s worst attacks during the primary season. Trump linked Cruz’s father to the John F. Kennedy assassination by citing a story published in the National Enquirer, a publication that, in its own words, provides “the hottest celebrity gossip and entertainment news.” “What was he [Rafael Cruz] doing with Lee Harvey Oswald just before his death? It’s horrible,” the business magnate said on Fox News. Trump also mocked Cruz’ wife by publishing an image of her frowning next to his wife, Melania Trump, a woman 24 years her junior, with the caption: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The reality TV star mocked Rubio’s stature by calling him “Little Marco.” The Florida senator struck back by making a vulgar joke about the size of Trump’s hands and other body parts. Rubio said he later apologized because “I didn’t like what it reflected on me.”

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Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, took a long time warming up to his party’s nominee. Even though he plucked up the courage to tell the roomful of delegates in Cleveland to vote for Trump to avoid “another Clinton” in the White House, his speech was a far cry from the avalanche of praise he poured over Mike Pence, the religious and far-right conservative governor of Indiana and Trump’s vice presidential pick.

English version by Dyane Jean-François

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