CLEVELAND — Ted Cruz enraged an arena full of Trump fans by failing to endorse the confirmed billionaire nominee, instead seeming to take the opportunity to relaunch his own brand.
And GOP nominee Donald Trump returned the favor by disrupting Cruz’s speech by entering the back of the hall giving his blessing to the jeering crowd.
Cruz started his prime time remarks with a conciliatory note by formally congratulating Trump on his nomination. He then paid homage to a slain Dallas police officer, criticized the “corrupt” Democratic establishment, slammed Obamacare, and then — at the point where most convention speakers would endorse the nominee — he went in a different direction.
“And to those listening, please don’t stay home in November. If you love your country and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket, who you trust to defend our party.”
The audience responded by booing Cruz off stage.
The jumbo screens above fizzed and crackled and eventually sputtered out for a period, but not before playing another family-focused video. Donald Trump’s son, Eric, spoke next, but it was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who managed to restore order at least temporarily.
“I think you misunderstood one paragraph that Ted Cruz, who’s a superb orator, said,” Gingrich told the crowd.
“In this election there is only one candidate who will uphold the constitution,” he said, and that is Trump-Pence.
Later in the night, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a”Reagan conservative.”
“He’s a man of faith, a man of conviction, a man you can trust,” he said.
And while Ryan reserved his praises for the vice presidential nominee, he spoke of sending “him and Donald Trump straight to the White House.”
Pence, billed as the headline attraction for the evening, then introduced himself.
“I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Pence introduced his mother in the audience, who blew him a kiss, and then the rest of his family.
Trump tapped Pence, a social conservative and born-again evangelical Christian, as his running mate last week.
He negotiated a compromise to expand Medicaid in Indiana, an action which even some liberal policy experts say they were gratified to see, but as recently as this past Saturday has promised to repeal Obamacare. In his remarks Wednesday, he took a poke at Hillary Clinton’s role in health reform during her husband Bill’s administration, saying, “She planted the seeds of the disaster we now know as Obamacare.”
The core of Thursday’s speeches centered around law and order and defeating terrorism, but the speakers spent considerable time bashing Clinton, the former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic nominee.
And Pence fell in line with that theme calling her “America’s secretary of the status quo”
“It’s change versus the status quo … and when Donald Trump is elected president of the United States of America the change will be huuuuuge,” he said, playing to the audience. While the crowd interrupted Pence several times with chants of “Trump” and “USA” he waited them out.
During the day, there were a number of protests in the public square outside the Quicken Loans Arena, site of the convention — including a flag-burning protest that involved 17 arrests. Leah Wolfe, who was working as a volunteer”street medic” treating injured protesters, said she had mostly been taking care of minor injuries such as blisters, sunburns, and dehydration.
The street medics haven’t had much contact with regular emergency medical services (EMS) staff as of yet, she noted. “We’re trained to identify real emergencies, so if a real emergency happens behind police lines, EMS is not allowed to go back there because they have to wait for police to clear the scene, whereas a lot of street medics are willing to be back there so they can help people, and get them out to the ambulance if it’s necessary.
“We’re a collective effort of volunteers from all over the country,” added Wolfe, who was interviewed prior to the flag-burning protest. “For me it’s practice in disaster preparedness … [although] so far it seems like it’s been pretty calm.”
When GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump takes the stage tomorrow night, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals will be joining the ranks of protesters outside the arena.
Protesters will convene Thursday afternoon for a march and later that evening for a rally in Public Square.