Yesterday, we witnessed a wildly eventful night in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence officially accepted the Republican nomination for vice president of the United States, former Trump rivals, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (by video), had time slots, and another Trump made a case for his father’s business acumen.
The big surprise of the evening was a refusal by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to endorse Donald Trump.
He did congratulate the Republican nominee for earning his place at the top of the ticket, but a forceful call in favor of a Trump vote was absent. Instead, Cruz used phrases like, “vote your conscience” in November.
Once it was clear Cruz was avoiding an endorsement, many in the crowd were audibly enraged as boos began to resonate around the arena. Analysts after the event postulated that Cruz was positioning himself to lead the “conservative” movement going forward, foreshadowing a 2020 run for president.
CNN anchor Dana Bash reported that she heard delegates call Cruz’s speech a disgrace. There was even a Trump supporter who had to be physically held back from the Senator. Trump surrogate Chris Christie also took aim at Cruz: “I think it was awful, selfish.”
Christie referenced the pledge signed by Republican candidates prior to the primaries, and chided Cruz for not honoring his word. A Trump tweet later in the evening made the same accusation. Michael Cohen, a Trump organization VP, told CNN's Jake Tapper that Cruz’s speech was “political suicide.”
Today’s cycle will surely swirl with Cruz’s nonendorsement, however, Mike Pence’s speech closing out the evening was powerful and cogent, rousing the crowd after Cruz.
Other than what looked like a bizarre air kiss from Donald Trump after the Pence speech, the Indiana Governor had a solid appearance making a conservative case against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, while exuding a calm and thoughtful demeanor, much in contrast to partner Donald Trump.
The third night of the RNC has multiple news threads, or as Anderson Cooper put it: This was a “remarkable night in politics.”