Ted Cruz took center stage at the Republican National Convention with a prime-time speech that began with loud cheers and conservative principles, but ended with jeers, boos, and no endorsement for Donald Trump.
“Don’t stay home in November,” Cruz told the audience on July 20. “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.”
From the moment Cruz said the word “conscience,” the boos began, and continued as he left the stage. The political spectacle took a surprising turn when Trump himself made an entrance into the convention hall, waving and shaking hands with the crowd, while Cruz was still speaking.
The Trump campaign has described the speech as selfish, citing the pledge Cruz and the other Republican candidates gave to support whoever becomes the nominee of the party.
Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2016
Cruz defended his speech at a Texas delegation breakfast the next morning saying that it was “not political” and was motivated by personal attacks he received from Trump during the primary season.
“The day that became abrogated was the day that became personal,” Cruz said. “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”
The Cleveland convention was supposed to be a public display of unity, but Cruz’s snub threw that unity into question, resurrecting the rhetoric of the Never Trump movement that had called for delegates to be able to vote their conscience.
This is a break from the majority of the convention that is now standing behind Trump’s platform and candidacy.
Speakers at the convention embraced key themes from Trump’s primaries: law and order, immigration, terrorism, and criticizing Trump’s rival, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Law and Order
The convention kicked off on July 18 with the theme “make America safe again,” with speeches by Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Clarke began his speech by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to make something very clear: Blue lives matter in America.” His words received a loud ovation and chants of “U-S-A” from the convention center.
He went on to decry the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter as a “collapse of social order” and as “anarchy.” His speech stressed the importance of a code that, at its foundation, is the rule of law.
Giuliani also criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, saying, “What happened to, ‘There’s no white America, there’s no black America, there is just America?'”
At times Giuliani spoke directly to police officers.
Immigration and Terrorism
One of Trump’s main tenets as a candidate is his hard line against immigration and terrorism.
His proposals to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border and mount a stronger fight against ISIS were embraced by the convention.
Addressing the Mexican border, a video told the story about border-patrol agent Brian Terry, who was shot and killed in 2010. His sister and brother, Kelly Terry-Willis and Kent Terry, spoke from the border and blamed the Obama administration’s failed policies for their sibling’s death.
“Only one candidate is serious about border security, and that’s Donald Trump,” Kent Terry said.
The video was followed by three family members—Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden, and Jamiel Shaw—who grieved the death of their children at the hands of illegal immigrants with criminal records.
“It’s time that we have an administration that cares more about Americans than about illegals,” Mendoza said.
The topic that received the most attention was Hillary Clinton.
Most striking was the speech by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who played the role of prosecutor, putting Clinton on trial “for her performance and her character,” to which the crowd responded, “Lock her up.”
Christie listed his grievances against Clinton, each time asking the crowd, “Guilty or not guilty?” The crowd responded with a resounding “guilty.”
He continued by questioning her economic decisions in China, her defense of the Assad government in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, and relations with Cuba and Russia, each time asking the same question—”Guilty or not guilty?”
After talking about international relations, he finished by indicting her for her private email server and “making our secrets vulnerable.”
Another prominent voice opposing Clinton was former presidential candidate Ben Carson, who didn’t indict her, but drew a line between her and Lucifer, referring to her undergrad thesis on Saul Alinsky, a Chicago-based community organizer.
“[Alinsky] wrote a book called ‘Rules for Radicals,'” Carson said. “On the dedication page, it acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.”
Carson went on about America’s foundation in Christian principles.
“This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that,” he implored the booing crowd.