This is the reason why liberals should be very, very afraid. Even in the worst of times, Donald Trump finds a way to turn things to his advantage. The latest was Wednesday night, when Ted Cruz gave a “hooray for Ted Cruz” speech, ending by saying that voters should vote their conscience, up and down the ballot—but not endorsing Trump. He even used the “Never Trump” code expression, “vote your conscience.”
Ted Cruz sensationally withheld an endorsement of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, earning a chorus of boos from the floor before he was upstaged in a power play by the GOP nominee himself.
In a dramatic development, as Cruz wrapped up his speech, Trump suddenly appeared in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He walked to join his family in a VIP area and flashed a thumbs-up — a gesture that transmitted clear anger at the Texas senator’s behavior.
Yes, in a stroke of genius, at the end of Cruz’ speech, when the entire arena was increasingly noisy, turning to boos, Donald Trump appeared, triumphant, waving and smiling, stage right. When the crowd saw him, the boos turned to cheers.
On the one hand, Trump saved Cruz from humiliation. The booing was getting louder, with chants of “We Want Trump!” And Cruz had no zinger ending to win the crowd back.
As delegates began to protest, Sen. Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, was heckled by Trump supporters shouting “Goldman Sachs!” and escorted out by security. Heidi Cruz, who is an employee of Goldman Sachs, declined to answer questions from reporters, saying, “I don’t talk to the media, thanks.”
The stunning political theater between the top two contenders in the Republican primary race blew open divisions in the party that the convention is designed to heal, and suggested Cruz believes Trump will lose in November. . .
Cruz’s rebuke ignited a hot scene around the senator as soon as he left the stage. People averted their eyes from Cruz and his wife as they walked with their security detail on the skybox level of boisterous Republicans.
On the donor suite level, people approached Cruz and insulted him, a source told CNN’s Dana Bash. One state party chairman reacted so angrily that he had to be restrained.
The reaction from the floor was also swift and harsh.
Newt Gingrich spoke next, and had an interesting interpretation. . .
Newt Gingrich, appearing after Cruz, argued that Cruz’s advocacy for constitutionalism meant that he, implicitly, endorsed Trump — words he himself did not say.
“So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution this fall, there’s only one possible way and that’s to vote the Trump-Pence ticket.”
Jonathan Barnett, a Republican national committeeman from Arkansas, walked off the floor after Cruz’s speech.
“He’s self-centered. It’s all about Ted Cruz. All he did is ruin his political career,” Barnett said. “I think he’s finished.”
Barnett said this is not the kind of grace one shows their party’s nominee: “Reagan wouldn’t have done that. He endorsed Ford.”
Ironically, it was the second time in the same day that Cruz was upstaged by Trump.
At a rally on the Cleveland waterfront, as Cruz spoke gingerly to fellow Republicans about “our nominee” and the uncertain future under his former rival, Trump’s plane flew in the clear skies behind him.
“That was pretty well orchestrated” Cruz said as the Trump-emblazoned aircraft buzzed through the air and the crowd booed.
As we noted elsewhere, Cruz has made no secret that he is running for president in 2020. That’s why he wanted to speak at the convention. It was Barack Obama’s speech in 2004 that made him so popular in 2008, and it was Ronald Reagan’s speech in 1976 that made him unstoppable four years later. But those speeches were well received.
Cruz was hoping to be the next Reagan or Obama, remembered for a stirring speech at the last convention. Instead, people will remember an evasive, self-serving speech, a refusal to endorse his party’s nominee, being booed, being upstaged by the nominee, and he and his wife having to be removed from the theatre by security guards, for their own safety. Way to go, Ted.