Delegates at the Republican National Convention thunderously booed Ted Cruz for refusing to endorse Donald Trump Wednesday — clouding an evening intended to highlight vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as a unifying force for the party. The disorder provided fresh reminders of the fissures that remain.
Cruz walked onto the Cleveland stage to a standing ovation and held the audience’s rapt attention until he told delegates to “vote your conscience” with no mention of nominee Trump, who had called him “Lyin’ Ted” on the campaign trail. The crowd then turned on him with loud boos.
Soon after, Pence, in accepting the party’s nomination, sought to bring the party together: “What unites us far exceeds anything that sets us apart in America,” he said.
Also, Melania Trump’s Monday speech continued to generate buzz as her speechwriter apologized.
What to know about the third day of the GOP convention:
BOOS FOR CRUZ
Cruz arrived in Cleveland with an eye on his own political future, holding a large rally with hundreds of supporters who greeted him with chants of “2020” — the next presidential election.
The Texas senator held the crowd during the first half of his convention hall speech, as he urged Americans to support the families of five police officers killed in Dallas this month. But he lost many delegates when he told them: “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.”
Speaking after Cruz, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to do damage control.
“In this election, there is only one candidate who will uphold the Constitution,” Gingrich said. “The only choice is a Trump-Pence Republican ticket.”
PENCE DEFENDS TRUMP
Pence lauded Trump is his own man, an independent spirit, and said change in the country will be “huge” under his presidency.
Delegates cheered: “We like Mike! We like Mike!”
Pence framed the November presidential race as crucial to defining the makeup of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. He said voters must ensure it’s Trump picking the justices.
He called presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the “secretary of the status quo,” referring to her former job as secretary of state.
Pence said he never thought he’d be standing on the stage at his party’s national convention. He joked that Trump is charismatic and must have been looking for balance in choosing him.
Two other failed Republican presidential candidates, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, addressed the crowd and supported Trump.
Rubio appeared by video, saying, “The time for fighting each other is over.”
Walker told Republicans who are on the fence about supporting Trump that the party can’t wait four more years.
“Let me be clear: A vote for anyone other than Donald Trump in November is a vote for Hillary Clinton,” Walker said.
Trump’s son, Eric, also addressed the convention. He said his father is the one candidate for president “who does not need this job.”
STILL TALKING ABOUT MELANIA
Controversy over Melania Trump’s Monday evening speech continued to hang over the convention. After it became clear that passages in Trump’s wife’s speech were strikingly similar to a 2008 speech from first lady Michelle Obama, a speechwriter for Trump’s company said Wednesday she had made a mistake and apologized.
Meredith McIver said Trump refused her offer to resign.
In a statement issued by the campaign, McIver said Mrs. Trump had told her that she admired Mrs. Obama, and had read passages from Obama’s speech as an example of things she liked. McIver said she wrote down the passages and later included them in the speech.
For two days, the Trump campaign tried to brush aside any talk of plagiarism, calling the criticism absurd.
OUTSIDE THE HALL
Cleveland police say 17 people were arrested following a chaotic protest near the arena hosting the convention.
The arrests happened as a protest group tried to burn an American flag near Quicken Loans Arena. It was the most turbulent protest since the four-day convention began Monday. The chaos delayed delegates and members of the media from getting into the arena for the evening’s proceedings.
THE REST OF THE WEEK
Trump will close the four-day convention with a speech Thursday night accepting the nomination.
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