It was the last time he mentioned the GOP nominee.
From there he moved directly into, “Like each of you, I want to see the principles that our party believes in prevail in November.” That was the first red flag for Trump fans.
“We’re fighting, not for one particular candidate or campaign, but because each of you wants to be able to tell your kids that we did our best for their future and our country,” Cruz said. Red flag No. 2.
“America is more than just a land mass between two oceans. It’s an idea. A simple yet powerful idea that freedom matters,” the GOP runner-up said. “We have no king or queen, no dictator; we, the people, constrain the government.”
Cruz thwapped around President Obama and presumptive Dem nominee Hillary Clinton for a while – already proven to be very popular sport in the hall this week. That calmed the crowd, which had been getting antsy the longer Cruz spoke without endorsing Trump. Obama and Hillary think ISIS is the JV team, Cruz said, and make a deal with a country that celebrates Death to America Day and Death to Israel Day, he added.
“My friends, this is madness.”
Eventually, when Cruz got to the part of a political speech where the candidate says, “If you love your country and love your children as much as I know you do,” signaling the end of the chat is near, without having yet endorsed Trump, the delegates began to holler. They shouted at Cruz as he told them to “stand up and vote your conscience” both “up and down the ticket” for candidates that will “be faithful to the constitution.”
Endorse Trump! We Want Trump!
“I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegates,” Cruz said, thinking that would hold them for a while.
He was wrong.
“We must make the most of our moment … to fight for freedom to protect our God-given rights, even of those with whom we don’t agree,” Cruz said over the booing, so that when we are old and gray “we will be able to say, ‘Freedom matters and I was part of something beautiful.'”
His wife Heidi Cruz had to be escorted to safety when it was over, CNN reported. And a Trump delegate had to be restrained from getting too in the face of Cruz after his speech wrapped.
Eric Trump moved quickly to the podium. “It is such an honor to be here for a man I love so, so, so, so much! That is my father.”
In fairness, Cruz actually had shown remarkable restraint tonight compared to, say, early May, when he was still a GOP candidate and talked a lot about Trump. He called Trump an “utterly amoral” and “pathological liar,” who boasts about infidelity. He said Trump builds giant buildings on which he puts his name because of a “yawning cavern of insecurity.” And he accused Trump of using the National Enquirer to “smear” political opponents.