WrestleMania at the Quicken: Cruz and Trump finally get their cage match

Good morning Austin:

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Sen. Ted Cruz, with his wife, Heidi, returned to the Cleveland Downtown Marriott at Key Center – the Texas delegation hotel – at around 1 a.m., conquering heroes to most of those they encountered in the hotel lobby.

Here is some rough footage of the scene.

Of course, not everyone was so enamored of the Texas senator’s performance, which started with a thunderous ovation from the Quicken Loans Arena crowd, and ended in a hail of boos and jeers that is certain to go down in the annals of convention history.

Cruz had spoken at the invitation of Donald Trump even though he had not agreed to endorse Trump, an arrangement either rare or unique in convention history, for reasons that last night help explain.

Wow is right. I don’t know how he does it.

Trump’s got the same 140 characters to work with that everyone else does, but he runs the range of emotions in one tweet – Shock. Condemnation. Betrayal. Magnanimity. Nonchalance. Indifference.

So, at long last, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump finally got their cage match.

 

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Here is the top of the New York Times report:

CLEVELAND — The Republican convention erupted into tumult on Wednesday night as the bitter primary battle between Donald J. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz reignited unexpectedly, crushing hopes that the party could project unity.

In the most electric moment of the convention, boos and jeers broke out as it became clear that Mr. Cruz — in a prime-time address from center stage — was not going to endorse Mr. Trump. It was a pointed snub on the eve of Mr. Trump’s formal acceptance speech.

As hundreds of delegates chanted “Vote for Trump!” and “Say it!” Mr. Cruz tried to dismiss the outburst as “enthusiasm of the New York delegation” — only to have Mr. Trump himself suddenly appear in the back of the convention hall. Virtually every head in the room seemed to turn from Mr. Cruz to Mr. Trump, who was stone-faced and clearly angry as he egged on delegates by pumping his fist.

Mr. Cruz was all but drowned out as he asked for God’s blessing on the country and left the stage, while security personnel escorted his wife, Heidi, out of the hall. One delegate yelled “Goldman Sachs!” at her — a reference to the company that has employed her, a job that Mr. Trump attacked during the primaries.

A short while later, Mr. Cruz faced insults as he made his way down a corridor — one woman yelled “Traitor!” When he tried to enter the convention suite of the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, he was turned away.

The commotion on the night that Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, Mr. Trump’s running mate, later gave a well-received speech, was a jarring demonstration of just how divided Republicans remain and a stunning departure from modern political conventions. The uproar over Mr. Cruz’s refusal to endorse Mr. Trump recalled an earlier political era, such as when the moderate Republican Nelson Rockefeller was heckled for using his speech at the 1964 convention to criticize Barry Goldwater, the party’s nominee that year.

“I’ve seen some crazy things,” said Brandon Bell, the chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, who was still stunned as he absorbed what had happened on the convention floor. “I don’t think this is going to play well.”

Mr. Cruz, who has all but declared that he wants to run for president again in 2020, especially angered Republican leaders who had been counting on him to keep his pledge that he would support the eventual nominee, a vow that other leading Republican contenders also made last fall.

From my story:

For most of Cruz’s typically well-crafted and well-delivered speech, the 45-year-old Texan, who had made a strong run for president in his first term in the Senate, seemed to have finessed his dilemma, congratulating Donald Trump on his nomination the night before, and stressing the importance that Republican values prevail in November, without explicitly endorsing his bitter rival.

But then, as his 22-minute speech was drawing to a close, he managed to take a sentence that began with what seemed a plea for a Trump vote into what sounded like the opposite.

“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said. “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.”

“Conscience” had been the rallying cry of a fierce minority of delegates – mostly die hard Cruz supporters – who were thrashed by the Trump campaign and the national Republican Party in their effort to thwart Trump’s nomination by passing a rule that would have given delegates pledged to Trump a “conscience” escape clause.

Cruz’s delivery of the word “conscience” set the Trump majority into a frenzy.

Suddenly the hall was enveloped in roaring mix of cheers overwhelmed with hoots and boos that left an indelible image of Cruz — brave or foolish, martyr or ingrate — under siege. As Cruz was being bombarded with vitriol, Trump himself emerged in the arena, cameras and attention swiveling in his direction, attended by a burst of cheers.

Cruz finished his speech amid a sea of commotion.

Indeed, talking to delegates at the Marriott, both Trump and Cruz forces felt that the other candidate and at least some of that other candidate’s supporters had behaved in a despicable manner last night, indeed all yesterday, beginning with a Cruz thank you reception for his delegates at Shooters in the Flats, where the Cruz faithful booed when Cruz noted the nomination of he-who-he-would-not-be-name, and chanted “2020, 2020, 2020, 2020,” even as, it seemed, the Trump campaign had sent a Trump plane to buzz the gathering. Really?

 

From my story:

Cruz’s convention speech came at the invitation of Donald Trump, who, as Cruz noted wryly, was the only one of his 16 GOP rivals for the party nomination that he didn’t beat, and who was nominated in a roll call vote Tuesday night.

“Our party now has a nominee,” Cruz said to a crescendo of boos, even as a Trump plane flew by and Cruz, looking around to see it, joked, “that was pretty well orchestrated,” calling out to campaign manager Jeff Roe, to ask whether he had arranged it.

Earlier, Roe had said that the invitation from Trump to let Cruz speak was “a very nice gesture,” even as Cruz hadn’t endorsed Trump.

At Shooters, Cruz talked about values and conscience and his campaign as a moral crusade, recalling the opening of the movie “Patton,” in which the title character, standing in front of a giant American flag, tells his soldiers that when they are asked what they did in the great war, they can reply, “I wasn’t shoveling crap in Louisiana.”

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler, who had campaigned for Cruz, said another erstwhile Cruz rival, former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, had told him that he knew of no other example of a vanquished candidate being given speaking time at a convention without having endorsed the nominee. Gohmert said that that said something good about Trump.

But Gohmert said that Cruz’s decision on whether or not to endorse Trump was entirely his own to make, and to live with.

And fund-raise off of.

This arrived just as the elevator door was closing behind Ted and Heidi.

Jonathan,
It was an honor to speak to the delegates at the Republican National Convention.
As our cause goes forward, I want to remind you about the stakes.
Americans are furious—rightly so—at a political establishment that cynically breaks its promises and ignores the will of the people. 
But there is is a better vision for our future: a return to freedom.
If we choose freedom, our future will be brighter. 
Freedom will bring back jobs and raise wages.
Freedom will lift people out of dependency and to the dignity of work.
47 years ago today, America put a man on the moon. That’s the power of freedom.
Our party was founded to defeat slavery.
Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
We passed the Civil Rights Act, and fought to eliminate Jim Crow laws. 

Those were fights for freedom, and so is this. 

 
This fight has never been about a particular candidate or 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.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Kirby Goidel at Texas A&M.

Wow! What a speech. Give Ted Cruz this much credit, he doesn’t mind get booed on principle. Aside from the non-endorsement though, I thought it was a good speech, touching on race, gay rights, and emphasizing freedom, and this is the sort of setting Cruz excels in. Hard to see how it plays out in the long-term but – in my view – if Trump falters, he put himself in good position for 2020. Particularly if you compare it to the Rubio, Walker or Christie speeches. 

From Brandon Rottinghaus at the University of Houston.

The non-endorsement wasn’t as big a problem for Cruz as the way he did it.   Ted Cruz didn’t dispel the myth that he’s out to serve Ted Cruz and not the Party.  
After a few months of Trump coverage as the defaced nominee and a few days of convention splendor, Ted Cruz may be a step behind the Party faithful in falling in line behind the nominee.  This may hurt Cruz more with the party than help him if he’s seen as selfish and not a team player.
The party faithful has clearly taken a seat on the Trump jet while Senator Cruz is still deciding what airline to fly.  This lag makes him look out of touch at best and selfish at worst.
Bucking the party has been a hallmark of Ted Cruz’s rise and this has served him well with a wing of the party.  This honest disunity washes in a primary but makes him look like a faithless dissenter in a general election.
The content of the speech hit the mark of a strong Cruz oration, personal but dogmatic about core principles.  It was a distilled stump speech, but a very effective set of issues, nearly served with a twist of flavor involving recent events.
He’s set himself up for a reelection bid in Texas — albeit perhaps a primary challenge and perhaps a Castro matchup the general — but another run at the White House might be tough after this fractured election and the scorched earth politics of the end of his campaign.  

From Jennifer Mercieca at Texas A&M:

He had them cheering for freedom and other platitudes throughout the speech and then they turned on him when it was clear that he wouldn’t endorse Trump. I suppose it was wise in the long-term to not endorse if Cruz has calculated that Trump will lose. It seems short-sighted in the near term. Perhaps it would have been wiser to decline to speak rather than put yourself in the awkward position of having to endorse a candidate who you despise?  Perhaps the crowd wouldn’t had turned on him if the convention were going better? 

From University of Texas political scientist Joshua Blank:

Cruz has really given a lot of Republican elites with a negative attitude about him the chance to publicly knife him. It might test the resilience of the outsider label. But at least he may have upstaged Trump one time, alas far too late.

This is epic. At least for the next 24 hours.

 

 

 

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