Media figures expressed disbelief over Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) refusal to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention, calling him a “sore loser” who “ruined” the night.
Ted Cruz Refuses To Endorse Trump At Republican National Convention
Cruz Tells RNC Delegates To “Vote Your Conscience,” Declines To Endorse Trump. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declined to endorse Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during his primetime speech at the Republican National Convention, telling the audience instead to “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.” [The Hill, 7/20/16]
Media Figures: Ted Cruz “Body Slammed” Trump’s Convention And “Will Pay A Price”
ABC's Tom Llamas: “Ted Cruz Walked In Here And He Body Slammed Donald Trump’s Convention.” ABC correspondent Tom Llamas compared Ted Cruz to “Stone Cold Steve Austin,” stating “Ted Cruz walked in here and he body slammed Donald Trump’s convention.” From the July 20 edition of ABC's Your Voice, Your Vote:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Tom Llamas, even behind the ideological differences, he -- former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich walked to the stage -- there is real bad blood between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
TOM LLAMAS: George, Donald Trump went after Ted Cruz’s wife, he went after his father. He suggested that Rafael Cruz possibly had a role in the killing of John F. Kennedy. I had never seen Ted Cruz lose his cool until that day, that’s when Ted Cruz lost it, and he went after Trump like I have never seen anything else.
This crowd down here, I’m right in front of them, they are still in a Cruz haze. There used to be a professional wrestler, his name was Stone Cold Steve Austin, his move was the “Stone Cold Stunner.” Ted Cruz walked in here and he body slammed Trump's convention. People are going to remember that, whether they like it or not, in 2020. [ABC, Your Voice, Your Vote, 7/20/16]
MSNBC's Chris Matthews On Cruz: “This Is Going Into Someone’s Party And Dumping On It. This Is Very Bad Behavior.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews characterized Cruz’s convention speech as “bad behavior for a political figure,” adding, “Cruz has a reputation for being unpleasant, but this is going into someone's party and dumping on it.” From the July 20 edition of MSNBC's The Place for Politics 2016:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: This is bad behavior by a political figure. Ted Cruz has a reputation for being unpleasant, but this is going into someone's party and dumping on it. This is very bad behavior. The only time in his speech Ted Cruz gave there, which he obviously prepared verbatim, was mentioning Donald Trump once, and then saying vote your conscience. That is political language for, “I'm releasing you not to vote for the Party.” I mean, he was saying to people in the Republican Convention, “you don't have to vote Republican this time.” It was an incredible, I think outrageous, misuse of his time, but they gave him the time. It was extraordinary, guys. Back to you, Brian. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics 2016, 7/20/16]
Wash. Post’s Aaron Blake: Convention “Turned Ugly, Because The Trump-Cruz Feud Never Really Ended.” The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote that “anybody hoping for a moment of healing and unification” during Cruz’s speech “is now sorely disappointed,” noting that his speech “got ugly” and “personal,” because “Cruz never really got over” the drama of the primary election. Blake added, “It was a stunning bit of political theater -- and in a convention filled with plenty of distractions, it threatens to be a definitive one”:
Anybody hoping for a moment of healing and unification in the GOP when Ted Cruz took the stage at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night is now sorely disappointed.
It got ugly.
In the hours before the speech, a report suggested that Cruz would challenge Trump in a primary in 2020 even if Trump wins the presidency. Cruz notably didn't endorse his party's nominee in his speech, offering only his congratulations.
Politicians often kiss and make up after saying horrible things about one another. But this was all personal, and perhaps Cruz never really got over it.
It was a stunning bit of political theater -- and in a convention filled with plenty of distractions, it threatens to be a definitive one. [The Washington Post, 7/20/16]
CNN’s Jake Tapper: Cruz’s Wife “Had To Be Escorted Out,” Which “Shows Just How Ugly This Race Was … And Just How Fractious It Remains.” CNN host Jake Tapper remarked that “Manu Raju, our reporter on the floor, said that Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife, had to be escorted out with Trump hecklers yelling at her.” Tapper continued, stating “it shows just how ugly this race was … and just how fractious it remains.” From the July 20 edition of CNN’s America’s Choice 2016: Republican National Convention:
WOLF BLITZER (CO-HOST): All right, Dana. The reaction, I got to tell you, Jake, the reaction here, the boos we heard to Ted Cruz, I've covered a lot of these kinds of conventions over these -- I don’t remember a time where someone was invited to speak the day before the presidential nominee was going to accept the nomination, and avoided endorsing that candidate.
JAKE TAPPER (CO-HOST): It’s remarkable, and Manu Raju, our reporter on the floor, said that Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz's wife, had to be escorted out, with Trump hecklers yelling at her. It shows just how ugly this race was, the contentious race was, and just how fractious it remains. [CNN, America’s Choice 2016: Republican National Convention, 7/20/16]
NBC’s Chuck Todd: “Many Trump People Will Believe That Cruz Just Ruined At Least Mike Pence's Night.” NBC host Chuck Todd said of Cruz’s non-endorsement, “this is Mike Pence's night, but the news is going to be Cruz not endorsing. … people will believe that Cruz just ruined at least Mike Pence's night and maybe this third night of the convention.” From the July 20 edition of MSNBC's The Place for Politics 2016:
CHUCK TODD: It's an extraordinary moment. Here we are, Wednesday night, this is Mike Pence's night, introduction to the country. But, of course, Ted Cruz hadn't had a chance to address this convention. The Cruz and Trump campaign did cut a deal, and they weren't sure what Cruz was going to do. And, sure enough, he decided not to fully endorse, as what you did. What makes it extraordinary is, again, this is Mike Pence's night, but the news is going to be Cruz not endorsing. This is -- Not since Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter had to chase Ted Kennedy around the 1980 convention looking, basically hoping that Kennedy would raise his hand and endorse. Essentially many Carter people believe Kennedy ruined Carter's convention. Many Trump people will believe that Cruz just ruined at least Mike Pence's night and maybe this third night of the convention. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics 2016, 7/20/16]
Fox’s Chris Wallace: “Sore Loser” Cruz “Will Pay A Price.” Fox News host Chris Wallace reacted to Cruz’s speech by declaring, “I think win or lose for Donald Trump, Cruz will pay a price,” adding that Cruz “looks like a sore loser.” From the July 20 edition of Fox News' America's Election HQ:
MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Chris Wallace, Ted Cruz said“Stand and speak, vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend freedom and be faithful to the Constitution.”
CHRIS WALLACE: Well, I looked at Ronald Reagan's speech tonight, this is a lot of talk. Ronald Reagan, after he lost to Gerald Ford in 1976, he got onto the stage after he'd lost at the Republican Convention, arm in arm with Gerald Ford, in effect endorsed him and said there was no substitute for victory. It was in effect a pep talk to all Republicans to get together, and win in November. We didn't hear that. We only heard Donald Trump's name once, as you say, and it was noticeable. Vote your conscience, vote up and down the ticket for people you can trust, not vote for Donald Trump. They booed him, and I think win or lose for Donald Trump, Cruz will pay a price. He looks like a sore loser [Fox News, America’s Election HQ, 7/20/16]
ABC’s Matthew Dowd: “I Think This Was A Big Mistake For Ted Cruz’s Career.” ABC’s Matthew Dowd said, “I think it was a big mistake for Ted Cruz's career,” while host George Stephanopoulos referred to Cruz’s non-endorsement as “real drama.” ABC’s Terry Moran reported that “ a sense of shock and then rage set in” “as the audience realized that Cruz was not going to endorse Trump.” From the July 20 edition of ABC’s Your Voice, Your Vote:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): We just had some real drama in this hall. Ted Cruz, one of the candidates vanquished by Donald Trump during the primaries, came to the stage, gave his speech, did not endorse Donald Trump. Instead told the delegates to vote their conscience. He was booed. Just as he was finishing his speech, Donald Trump walks into the hall. Matt Dowd, one of the most electric moments of this convention so far.
MATTHEW DOWD: It's an amazing -- we've seen so many firsts in the course of this campaign. This is another first in, a speaker in primetime comes into the convention, who seems to love to be hated. He came in with anger aimed at Hillary Clinton, and he actually turned it to anger aimed at him by the end of it. I think it was a big mistake for Ted Cruz's career.
TERRY MORAN: Incredible scene here George, as the audience realized that Cruz was not going to endorse Trump. A sense of shock, and then rage set in among the Trump people. They heckled him until you almost couldn't hear him. Endorse him, do it for the country. The pledge, the pledge, they hollered at him. This floor is still buzzing. [ABC, Your Voice, Your Vote, 7/20/16]
Fox’s Megyn Kelly: “Heidi Cruz Had To Be Escorted From The Floor” And “RNC Officials … Say Cruz’s Speech Was, Quote, ‘Classless.’” Fox’s Megyn Kelly noted that Cruz’s wife, “had to be escorted from the floor” during the crowd’s reaction to Cruz’s convention speech, adding that “RNC officials” said “Cruz’s speech was, quote, ‘classless.’” From the July 20 edition of Fox News’ America’s Election HQ:
MEGYN KELLY: Meantime, while that was happening, the aftermath of what we saw from Ted Cruz was playing out. First of all, it's come out that Heidi Cruz had to be escorted from the floor by Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general in Virginia, to an angry crowd, some screaming Goldman Sachs at her. In the meantime, there's debate raging on Twitter why the electricity went out behind the speaker. They're having some AV problems here, and why Ted Cruz made the choice that he did. I want to bring our panel back.
And the RNC has already come out, RNC officials telling our own Bill Hemmer that they say Cruz's speech was, quote, “classless.” But others are coming out and saying he is the conscience of the party and he can hold that mantle from now to 2020. [Fox News, America’s Election HQ, 7/20/16]
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: “If They Knew That This Is What Cruz Was Going To Do, They Gave Him This Chunk Of A Night To Get That Response.’” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reacted to Cruz’s speech by saying the Trump campaign made “a very interesting decision” to allow Cruz to speak without an endorsement of Trump, while Eugene Robinson called the speech “the most extraordinary moment.” From the July 20 edition of MSNBC's The Place for Politics 2016:
EUGENE ROBINSON: That was the most extraordinary moment, of the Ted Cruz speech, when he got to the words “vote your conscience.” Now, was this speech vetted by the Trump people and yet they let him get on the stage?
RACHEL MADDOW: That's a good point. The Trump campaign said today, overtly, that -- Paul Manafort said that he was reading the speech, that he expected to get a final copy of the speech. It is a very interesting decision to have given somebody such incredible prime time real estate, and such a big chunk of it, if you knew in advance that the speech ended with “vote your conscience” instead of an endorsement.
ROBINSON: That's like handing Clint Eastwood the chair, right? That's the equivalent.
MADDOW: If you had a guarantee from Clint Eastwood that what he was going to do is sit there and ramble on a chair. In this case, I think at least Clint Eastwood was a little bit of a surprised. If they knew that this is what Cruz was going to do, they gave him this chunk of a night to get that response in the hall.
ROBINSON: You have this whole evening that was like a normal convention evening of people praising the nominee, and saying what a great president he's going to be and what a great guy he is, and how wonderful everything's going to be. And then you have Ted Cruz who gave, I thought, a pretty eloquent statement of conservative principles. It sounded like the opening speech of his 2020 campaign. But I thought a pretty good speech, but very pointedly leaving out anything but a sort of cursory congratulations of Trump for winning the nomination.
MADDOW: And he gets booed off the stage for it. [MSNBC, The Place for Politics 2016, 7/20/16]
NBC’s Chuck Todd: “Non Trump Endorsement By Cruz Overshadows What Might Have Been One Of The Signature Speeches Of Cruz's Career”:
Slate’s Jamelle Bouie: “What A Disaster”:
BBC’s Katty Kay: “This Is Not A Unified Party. Cruz's Refusal To Endorse Trump Is A Blow To His Convention”:
CNN’s Tom LoBianco: Cruz And Trump “Blow-Up Just Walked All Over [Mike Pence] Natl Intro”:
Washington Examiner Columnist Kristen S. Anderson: “Cruz Vs Trump Vs ‘Other’ Will Be A Bloody War In November”:
NBC’s Mark Murray: Mike Pence Was “Overshadowed By Tonight’s ‘Et Tu, Cruz’ Fireworks”:
Fox’s Brian Kilmeade: Cruz’s Non-Endorsement Was “One Of The Most Selfish Speeches You Will Ever See At A Convention.” Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade slammed Cruz’s speech, saying it “was one of the most selfish speeches you will ever see at a convention. From the July 21 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Let me see. I think it says here at some point “I'm going to endorse Donald Trump for president.” No, conscience. “Vote your conscience.” That's code for Cruz. He's saying “Vote your conscience, I'm really the guy.” It was one of the most selfish speeches you will ever see at a convention. People were upset about Governor Christie for not mentioning Mitt Romney four years ago enough at a keynote speech. That was heaven compared to what Ted Cruz did. And the question is Ainsley, how did this happen? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/21/16]
Mike Barnicle: Cruz’s Speech Was A “Portrait In Smugness.” Columnist and frequent MSNBC guest Mike Barnicle decried Cruz’s speech as “an absolute portrait in smugness.” From the July 21 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
MIKE BARNICLE: It was clearly calculated, I mean it was calculated to what happens in November. And he’s taking a risk, a gamble, that Trump is going to lose. It was an absolute portrait in smugness. His delivery -- I mean he was oozing smugness. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 7/21/16]
NBC’s Nicolle Wallace: Cruz’s Speech Was Like “Going Into Someone’s Living Room, Breaking All The Furniture, And Then Stealing All The Food.” NBC’s Nicolle Wallace panned Cruz’s speech, saying it was “the equivalent of going into someone’s living room, breaking all the furniture, and then stealing all the food in the fridge before you run out.” Wallace added that it was “bad manners” and Cruz “squandered so much goodwill.” From the July 21 edition of NBC’s Today:
NICOLLE WALLACE: I think that Cruz accomplished what the Trump campaign has not been able to do so far. I think he managed to unite more Republicans behind Trump. Because what he did is the equivalent of going into someone’s living room, breaking all the furniture, and then stealing the food out of the fridge before you run out. It was bad manners and he squandered so much goodwill. [NBC, Today, 7/21/16]
CNN’s John Phillips: “What You Saw Last Night Was A Sore Loser.” CNN political commentator John Phillips criticized Cruz, saying “What you saw last night was a sore loser.” From the July 21 edition of CNN’s New Day:
JOHN PHILLIPS: I’m an Angel fan. I grew up in California. I learned very early on that life is much easier if you’re not a sore loser. What you saw last night was a sore loser. When this campaign started, he was the guy that was embracing Donald Trump. He thought Donald Trump would flame out and he wanted Donald Trump supporters in the Cruz camp. Things didn’t work out that way and I think he just can’t accept the fact that Donald Trump would beat him in the primary. [CNN, New Day, 7/21/16]
This post has been updated to include additional examples