After a day of will-he-or-won’t-he media coverage, cheering quickly turned to booing on the floor of the Republican National Committee convention Wednesday, as Sen. Ted Cruz decided to congratulate, but not endorse, Donald Trump.
While showing his support of the Republican Party, Cruz, who dropped out of the presidential race two months ago when it was clear he'd lost to Trump, deliberately avoided endorsing the nominee during his speech, sending the crowd into a fury. The last minutes of Cruz’s speech were drowned in "endorse" chants and loud boos.
The convention floor was in chaos
According to media reports from the convention, Cruz’s speech incited raging anger from Trump supporters on the convention floor.
Cruz is literally drowned out by boos and Trump chants. "Stop talking, go home, go home to Texas!" There's your highlight clip.— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) July 21, 2016
Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, escorted Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, out of the room, telling ABC News that Trump supporters were approaching her confrontationally and the atmosphere had become too "volatile." According to CNN’s Manu Raju, Trump supporters began shouting, "Goldman Sachs," as Heidi was escorted off the floor.
Angry Ken Cuccinelli escorting Heidi Cruz out as Trump supporters yell at her pic.twitter.com/G6USuhoSx2— Graham Moomaw (@gmoomaw) July 21, 2016
A lot of Republican officials were not pleased with Cruz’s non-endorsement
According to Fox News’s Bill Hemmer, although RNC officials knew Cruz would congratulate Trump, they found his non-endorsement of Trump to be "classless."
Sources also told CNN’s Dana Bash that a state Republican Party chair reacted to Cruz so angrily after the speech that he had to be physically restrained.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shared similar sentiments, telling Bash, "It was an awful, selfish speech." Christie, who, like Cruz, withdrew from the presidential run because of Trump, endorsed the nominee in February. Earlier today, Christie told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Cruz "should" endorse Cruz, to "adhere to the pledge" to support the Republican Party’s nominee.
While Christie and the RNC saw Cruz’s decision not to endorse Trump as "classless" and "selfish," other Republican commentators saw the moment as a show of authenticity.
Republican strategist Rick Wilson called it "bravery":
I admire bravery above almost any other human characteristic. From dear friends to Ted Cruz, today has been full of brave acts.— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) July 21, 2016
Either way you look at it, Sean Davis, a founder of the Federalist, captured the chaos:
THERE WERE HORSES AND A MAN ON FIRE AND TED CRUZ JUST KILLED A GUY WITH A TRIDENT— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) July 21, 2016