Despite losing the primary race, Ted Cruz managed to pull one more fast one on Donald Trump, sending what had been the most energetic night of the Republican National Convention off track with three simple words: “vote your conscience.”
Before Cruz delivered his speech, where he refused to endorse the Republican nominee, Wednesday night had been running far more smoothly than the first two evenings of the convention in Cleveland. Conservative firebrand and radio host Laura Ingraham spoke early, giving the assembled Republicans an energy that had mostly been lacking in previous nights. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi offered up plenty of political red meat, decrying presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another former rival of Trump, got the crowd to repeatedly chant, “America Deserves Better.”
Wednesday was supposed to belong to Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president. Pence praised Trump, and he distinguished himself from his running mate with a self deprecating note, acknowledging that many in the audience may not be familiar with him. Pence’s well-paced address also contained some of the traditional “attack dog” talking points of many vice presidential speeches.
But for many, the only memory of the third night of the 2016 RNC will be the crowd exploding with anger over Cruz’s speech, booing one of their own off the stage. If party unity was the goal of the week, Cruz may have made it unattainable.