Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday stoutly defended his refusal to endorse Donald Trump during his Republican National Convention speech, saying he is not a “servile puppy dog” and vowed not to back anyone who launched nasty personal attacks against his family.
“I’m not going to get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump, but I’ll give you this response: I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” Cruz said at a meeting where he faced sharp questions from the Texas delegation in Cleveland.
“And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi, I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and my father,” he added.
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Cruz said he will be “watching and listening” but won’t “sit down, shut up, support the team.” He added that he doesn’t intend to “throw rocks” at Trump, the Republican party’s presidential nominee.
The 45-year-old Texas senator sensationally withheld an endorsement of Trump in his speech on Wednesday, earning a chorus of boos from the floor while getting upstaged in a power play by the Republican party nominee himself.
Trump had repeatedly mocked Cruz throughout the campaign as “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump also took jabs at the appearance of Cruz’s wife, Goldman Sachs executive Heidi Cruz, and the Texas senator responded that Trump is a “sniveling coward” and later “a pathological liar.”
Trump also made suggestions that Cruz’s Cuban-born father had indirect links to John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
At Wednesday’s speech, Cruz, uttered Trump’s name just once — to congratulate him — and instead pitched the
ideological brand of conservatism that endears him to the Republican party’s base.
“I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night,” Cruz said. “And like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes prevail in November.” But as it was clear Cruz was going to end his speech without endorsing Trump, delegates began to boo and some chanted “We want Trump!”
“Don’t stay home in November,” Cruz said toward the end of his otherwise very well-received speech. “Stand and speak and vote your conscience.”
As delegates began to protest, Cruz’s wife, Heidi, was heckled by Trump supporters shouting “Goldman Sachs!” and escorted out by security.
Heidi declined to answer questions from reporters, saying, “I don’t talk to the media, thanks.”
The stunning political theater between the top two contenders in the Republican primary race blew open divisions in the party that the convention is designed to heal, and suggested Cruz believes Trump will lose in November, CNN reported.