CLEVELAND — Ted Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, congratulated Donald Trump on Wednesday night for winning the Republican presidential nomination, but he did not outright endorse him, an omission that drew a huge reaction from the crowd with many booing him as he left the stage.
In a much anticipated speech at the Republican National Convention here, the Texas senator portrayed the country as one imperiled, divided and in danger, saying Democratic leaders are responsible for “madness.”
However, his speech will undoubtedly be remembered for the reaction of the crowd as it became apparent that he would not endorse Trump.
As Cruz began winding up his speech, the convention hall grew noisier, with some chanting “Trump.”
At one point, Cruz appeared to try to pass it off as parochialism, saying, “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”
However, as he left the stage a cascade of reaction came down.
Afterward, Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said that Cruz “missed a real opportunity to solidify himself within the party.”
However, he added, “we’re going to unite the party with or without Ted Cruz.”
Jeanita McNulty, of Davenport, a longtime Republican who was in the arena, said “he missed a great opportunity to unite the party.”
Much of the day has been dominated by speculation about whether Cruz would endorse Trump, a man who once tweeted an unflattering picture of the Texas senator’s wife during the campaign and frequently referred to him as “Lyin’ Ted.”
Cruz, not one to shrink from a fight, once called Trump a “pathological liar” and “utterly amoral.”
Still, on Wednesday, with the fight for the nomination over and party leaders demanding unity, there was tremendous pressure on him in some quarters to issue an endorsement.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for example, said that Cruz would be “less of a person” if he didn’t. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who also ran unsuccessfully for president and preceded Cruz, said in his speech Wednesday night he wanted to make it clear that “a vote for anyone other than Donald Trump would be a vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Earlier in the day, Cruz held an outdoor rally to thank volunteers, an event that was packed with supporters, including some in the Iowa contingent. It also was an occasion that injected yet one more unbelievable moment into an unbelievable campaign. Just as Cruz was telling the crowd the GOP had its nominee, Trump’s plane flew overhead as some in the crowd booed.