Texas Sen. Ted Cruz set off a maelstrom inside the Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night when he refused to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. He actually went one step further, telling voters to “vote their conscience.”
This set off the crowd. Many booed Cruz off the stage and yelled at him to “go home.”
Even among some Cruz partisans attending the convention, the speech went over like a lead balloon.
“Everybody is disappointed. That takes a lot of guts to sit there in front of the whole nation and act like a baby,” said Nick Stepovich, a Cruz delegate from Fairbanks, Alaska carrying a “Cruz Delegates For Trump” sign.
“There’s a time to unify,” he added. Later, Stepovich roamed the concourse of the arena waving his sign and yelling, “If he won’t say it, I will!”
John Sheppard, a Cruz delegate from Fort Worth, Texas, said that he was “upset with Cruz,” but that he thought there may have been some part of the speech Cruz didn’t get to where he’d give a clear endorsement.
“I was upset at him, but I didn’t know the full story until [the speech] was over,” Sheppard said. Like many delegates who didn’t vote for Trump in the primary, Sheppard said he supported Trump now because he didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be the nominee.
At least one delegate said that Cruz was perfectly right to tell delegates to “vote their conscience.”
“I think that’s great advice,” said Eric Minor, a delegate from Washington State wearing a “Cruz Conservatives” t-shirt. “Why would anyone not want to vote their conscience?”