Jonathan Swan at The Hill reports that aides to Ted Cruz pleaded with him to endorse his former rival Donald Trump, but the Texas senator refused. On Wednesday night, the delegates booed Cruz off stage for his refusal to honor his pledge to support the GOP nominee in his speech before the Republican National Convention.
Just hours before Ted Cruz took the stage for his convention speech Wednesday night, senior members of Cruz’s team were still pushing him to endorse Donald Trump.
Cruz never wanted to endorse Trump and is still furious about the personal attacks the GOP presidential nominee made on his family during the primary campaign, sources familiar with the speech preparations told The Hill.
But top aides had concluded he needed to formally endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention.
For Cruz, it was always personal.
Still, some aides to Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas, were pushing him to endorse Trump for the sake of his own political future.
Cruz has indicated intentions to run for president again in 2020, and he has a team forming behind him to execute that plan. 2020 was the unspoken undertone beneath the drafting Wednesday night’s speech.
Cruz declined to endorse Trump in his speech before the RNC on Wednesday night. His only mention of the Republican nominee was to congratulate Trump for winning the nomination.
Instead, Cruz encouraged voters to “vote your conscience.”
“And to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience,” Cruz said. “Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
The lack of an endorsement and the use of the “vote your conscience” phrase, which echoed the language used by the Never Trump movement, prompted boos and chants of “We want Trump” from the audience.
“I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,” Cruz said in response.
Cruz had sparked the ire of voters from Trump’s home state when he denounced “New York values” during a Republican primary debate in Iowa.