CLEVELAND — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz faced a livid — and yet admiring — Texas delegation on the final day of the Republican National Convention, only 12 hours after Donald Trump loyalists in the convention booed the junior senator off the stage.
In a standing room-only Texas GOP delegation breakfast Thursday morning, Cruz defended his refusal to endorse the GOP nominee Wednesday evening.
“I am not in the habit of supporting people who have attacked my wife and attacked my father,” said Cruz, who was greeted at the breakfast by both raucous cheers and visceral questions.
Cruz told Texas Republicans he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and he discouraged Texans from writing in his name in November.
But many in the crowd were unsatisfied with his explanations for not endorsing Trump.
One woman emotionally asked him why he would not honor a pledge he made early in the primary campaign, promising to support the eventual GOP nominee.
Cruz told her that he fully intended to follow through on that promise.
“The day that was abrogated was the day this became personal,” he said. “I’m not going to get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump.”
“And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go slander and attack Heidi, then I’m not going nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog and say thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father. ”
Cruz then signaled to a man in the back of the room.
“I will note, sir, you’re making crying signs in the back,” he said. “I will note, sir, that you might have a similar view if someone were attacking your wife. I hope you would.”
Cruz was alluding to the bitter final weeks of the primary fight, when Trump essentially declared Heidi Cruz unattractive on Twitter and floated a conspiracy theory that Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was complicit in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Rafael Cruz was in the crowd Thursday morning.
“This is not a game. This is not politics,” Cruz added. “Right and wrong matters. We have not abandoned who we are in this country.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune, a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
Top image: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to the Texas delegation at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on July 21, 2016. Photo by Abby Livingston.