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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 22, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 30
Chaos at the convention

Ted Cruz and friends try to derail GOP gathering
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Chaos at the convention

Ted Cruz and friends try to derail GOP gathering

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

'Are we crazy?' Rudy Giuliani shouted to the Republican National Convention during his July 18 primetime speech.

'Yeah!' the crowd responded enthusiastically.

As if to prove the point, the GOP gathering periodically descended into chaos, as supporters of failed candidate Ted Cruz of Texas clashed with party officials committed to nominating Donald Trump.

It all came to a head on July 20, the third night of the convention.

Cruz had been invited to speak to the convention by Trump's campaign staff even though, they said later, they knew he was not going to endorse the GOP nominee.

In fact, Cruz mentioned Trump exactly once, in a perfunctory congratulation for winning the nomination. Then the Texas senator went on to pointedly non-endorse his party's presidential candidate.

'To those listening, please, don't stay home in November. If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know you do, 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,' Cruz said.

As it dawned on the delegates that Cruz was not endorsing Trump, the hall erupted in boos, led by the solidly pro-Trump New York delegation seated just below the stage.

Pro-Trump delegates began to chant 'We want Trump! We want Trump!' while Cruz partisans replied with '2020! 2020!' implying that their guy would pick up the pieces of a broken GOP and win the next go-around.

'I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation,' Cruz said with a characteristic smirk. He then went on to lecture the delegates on standing for principles before departing the stage and leaving the hall in disorder.

As Cruz made for the exit, Washington state GOP chair Susan Hutchison confronted him outside an elevator. His speech was 'inexcusable,' she told him, and he is a 'traitor to the party.'

Cruz's wife, Heidi, fled the convention floor, escorted by former Virginia attorney general, failed gubernatorial candidate, and Cruz ally Ken Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli later told told ABC News that he escorted her out because 'it was volatile, and the Trump folks were physically approaching and confrontationally yelling.'

'People behind her were getting very ugly, and physically approaching her and [Cruz's father] Raphael, and it was not a pretty situation,' Cuccinelli told ABC. 'The decision was instantly made to not talk to media and get immediately out of the arena.

'People from my own delegation were physically approaching her while yelling at her. So, I physically moved media out of her way, and got in the way of my own delegation so she could clear by and get out of the arena,' he said.

Parliamentary maneuvers
Cruz's speech was the third time in as many days that he or his supporters tried to derail the convention.

On day one of the event, pro-Cruz delegates from Colorado led a so-called 'Free the Delegates' movement, attempting to change the rules of the convention to allow delegates to vote their conscience rather than being bound to the candidates who won their state primaries.

On a voice vote, temporary convention chair Rep. Steve Womack ruled that the delegates had voted to uphold the established rules, making it inevitable that Trump would win the nomination. Anti-Trump forces then demanded a roll call vote, which was their right, but which everyone acknowledged they would probably lose.

Womack and senior party officials then disappeared from the stage, only to return 20 minutes later and announce that a roll call was not required because some delegations that initially supported the move to unbind delegates had withdrawn their support.

Cruz delegates began to chant 'Roll call! Roll call!' while Trump delegates tried to drown them out with chants of 'USA! USA!' Cuccinelli ripped off his delegate's credentials and tossed them to the floor in anger.

Cruz supporters later charged that party leaders had used the 20-minute break to pressure delegations into changing their votes. Some Cruz supporters reportedly left the convention in disgust.

'We have witnessed an abomination and the implosion of the Republican Party as we have known it,' Texas delegate Ivette C. Lozano told TheBlaze. 'Many are leaving the convention.'

The next day, Cruz delegates from Alaska again tried to derail proceedings with a parliamentary maneuver. As delegations announced their votes for the presidential nominee, the Alaska delegation objected that its vote count had been erroneously reported.

At issue was a difference between the state GOP rules - which allowed Cruz to keep the delegates he won in the state primary - and the convention rules, which required all the state's votes to go to Trump, since Cruz had suspended his campaign.

Again officials disappeared from the podium, again they returned with a pro-Trump decision, and again Cruz supporters broke out in boos.

'The RNC interpreted our state party rules incorrectly,' state GOP chair Tuckerman Babcock told reporters later. 'Our vote on the floor went forward the way Alaskans wanted them to. We honored the voters of Alaska: 12 for Cruz, 11 for Trump, and 5 for Rubio. We regret that the RNC did not discuss this with the Alaska delegation.'

As SGN goes to press, it remains to be seen whether Cruz supporters will attempt to upstage nominee Trump when he takes the stage June 21.

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