US Elections 2016

Cruz's snub shows Republicans still divided over Trump

Right: Mr Cruz called on Americans to vote for the candidates they trusted to "be faithful to the Constitution", without mentioning Mr Trump. Bottom right: The real estate tycoon later tweeted that it was "no big deal" that Mr Cruz did not honour a p
Mr Cruz called on Americans to vote for the candidates they trusted to "be faithful to the Constitution", without mentioning Mr Trump. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Right: Mr Cruz called on Americans to vote for the candidates they trusted to "be faithful to the Constitution", without mentioning Mr Trump. Bottom right: The real estate tycoon later tweeted that it was "no big deal" that Mr Cruz did not honour a p
The real estate tycoon later tweeted that it was "no big deal" that Mr Cruz did not honour a pledge to support the Republican party's nominee.PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Audience boos senator, but Trump campaign says it was not expecting endorsement

There was pandemonium on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland for the third day running, as hopes that the grand event could start to mend the internal split started to fade.

This time, the high drama was provided by Senator Ted Cruz, who was judged to have snubbed Mr Donald Trump by failing to endorse the nominee despite being given a prime televised speaking slot at the convention.

The senator - who finished second to Mr Trump in a bitter, ill-tempered primary race full of insults and name-calling - instead called on Americans to vote according to their conscience.

It sparked wild scenes on the floor as delegates yelled abuse at the senator and tried to drown out his speech.

The turmoil overshadowed the coming-out party for vice-presidential pick Mike Pence, who otherwise delivered a well-received speech, introducing himself to the party and urging unity.

There was little hint of what was to come when Mr Cruz took the stage. With many expecting him to deliver an endorsement he has withheld for so long, they received him with a rousing, minute-long standing ovation. But as his speech wore on with barely a mention of Mr Trump, the delegates grew restless.

DEFENDING TRUMP

Donald Trump gets it, he's the genuine article. He's a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers. And when Donald Trump does his talking, he doesn't tiptoe around the thousand new rules of political correctness.

MR MIKE PENCE, talking about his running-mate's outspoken nature.

"Get on with it!" an audience member could be heard shouting, while others took to chanting "We want Trump."

When it became clear no endorsement was coming, all hell broke loose.

DEFEND FREEDOM

To those listening, please, don't stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.

'SENATOR TED CRUZ, who got booed for saying these words because he failed to endorse Mr Trump.

Boos rang out and the chanting intensified when Mr Cruz said: "Please, don't stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

Many visibly angry delegates tried to drown out the rest of the senator's speech with chants of Mr Trump's name while others started yelling "Lyin' Ted", the nickname the tycoon had given his opponent during the primaries.

CRUZ CRITICISED

We should all - even you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos - we love you, but you must honour your pledge to support Donald Trump now.

RADIO HOST LAURA INGRAHAM, in a veiled remark directed at Senator Ted Cruz during her speech at the Republican Convention.

Amid the commotion, Mr Trump walked into the arena, forcing TV stations to cut away from Mr Cruz as he was finishing his speech.

But the abuse continued and security personnel escorted Mr Cruz's wife out of the arena because they feared for her safety.

CRUZ PARAPHRASED

I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who is a superb orator, said, and I just want to point it out to you. Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution. In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution. So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution of the United States, the only possible candidate this fall is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH

The episode once again laid bare the cracks in the party. And with three tumultuous days behind them, party leaders know they are running out of time to change the narrative of the convention.

There have been shouting matches, a war of words between the Trump campaign and Ohio Governor John Kasich plus a prolonged plagiarism scandal involving Mrs Melania Trump's speech.

JUST VOTE FOR MY DAD

Vote for the candidate who can't be bought, sold, purchased, bribed, coerced, intimidated, or steered from the path that is right and just and true. And quite frankly, friends, vote for the one candidate who does not need this job.

MR ERIC TRUMP, urging voters to support his father.

On Wednesday, the campaign reversed its initial denial and released a statement where a staff writer took the blame and apologised.

A lot now rests on the speech Mr Trump will give at the closing of the event on Thursday night (this morning, Singapore time).

The Trump campaign sought to downplay the Cruz saga, saying it was not expecting an endorsement.

"Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honour the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!" tweeted Mr Trump shortly after the speech. He was referring to a pledge all Republican presidential hopefuls took to support the party nominee.

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who was a contender for Mr Trump's V-P pick, similarly tried to salvage the situation in his speech.

He attempted to argue that Mr Cruz actually did endorse the nominee.

"Now I think you misunderstood one paragraph... So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution of the United States, the only possible candidate this fall is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket," he said.

The bright spot of the night for Republicans was Mr Pence's speech. The V-P pick was composed, unassuming and he delivered the sort of full-throated support for the candidate that leaders had hoped would have been more commonplace at the convention.

He even dropped in a few jokes: "You know, he (Mr Trump) is a man known for a larger personality, a colourful style and lots of charisma. And so, I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket."

On more than one occasion, Mr Pence sought to turn Mr Trump's brash, outspoken nature into an asset.

"Over in the other party, you know, if the idea was to present the exact opposite of a political outsider, the exact opposite of an uncalculating truth-teller, then on that score you've got to hand it to the Democratic establishment, they outdid themselves this time!" he said.

Mr Trump appeared on stage with Mr Pence at the end of the speech and was clearly pleased with his running-mate's debut.

"Mike Pence was fantastic tonight. Will make a great V-P," he tweeted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'Cruz's snub shows Republicans still divided over Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe