CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) – Ted Cruz is defending his speech at the Republican National Convention that’s drawn harsh criticism from those inside the Republican party.
Cruz spoke at the Texas delegation breakfast in Cleveland on Thursday morning, saying he would not support anyone who waged personal attacks against his family.
The Texas Senator said he would support the candidate, “I trust to defend our freedom and be faithful to the constitution.”
During his speech on Wednesday night, Cruz urged people to go to the polls and “vote with their conscience.” He did not endorse Donald Trump as the Republican Presidential candidate.
The Texas senator was heckled on Thursday morning as he spoke to his home state delegation to the Republican National Convention.
He adds that, “We either stand for shared principles or we’re not worth anything.”
Cruz and Trump have significant bad political blood between them. Trump nicknamed him, “Lyin’ Ted” and implied that Cruz’s father, Raphael, had a connection to President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Trump also criticized the appearance of Cruz’s wife, Heidi.
He adds, “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father.”
Cruz was booed offstage during his address to the GOP convention Wednesday night when it became clear that his speech would not include an endorsement of Trump.
Cruz says he won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for President. He also says he plans to listen to Trump’s speech at the RNC on Thursday night.
Cruz’s speech on Wednesday drew immediate, harsh criticism from delegates on the floor, and that discontent carried into Thursday morning.
In a Tweet, Trump said Cruz “talks about the Constitution but doesn’t say that if the Dems win the Presidency, the new JUSTICES appointed will destroy us all!”
Trump was referring to the open seat on the Supreme Court left vacant after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Senate Republicans say it should be up to the next president to appoint a replacement. They have refused to hold a confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
Trump reacted immediately to Cruz’s speech on Wednesday night, tweeting it was, “No big deal!”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says the Republican Party is coming together even though Cruz refused to endorse Trump on Wednesday night.
The GOP vice presidential nominee told Fox News Thursday that he is grateful Cruz came to the convention. Pence noted that the Texas senator did congratulate Trump on winning a hard-fought campaign.
Pence said he is “absolutely confident that in the days ahead you’re going to see this party come together and present the choice to the American people.”
Trump’s allies are pummeling Cruz for refusing to endorse his former rival for the Republican presidential nomination.
Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort told reporters that Cruz is “in violation” of his pledge to support the nominee. Trump formally won that title on Tuesday.
Manafort added that the delegates who booed the Texas senator offstage Wednesday night helped unify the party behind Trump.
Another ally, New York Congressman Chris Collins, said on Fox News that Cruz has “ended his own career” with his refusal to endorse Trump.
More heckling ensued, but Cruz refused to yield, “like a servile puppy dog.” Cruz cast his position as personal, a refusal based in part on Trump’s insults of his father, Raphael and wife, Heidi.
Former House Speaker John Boehner says, “Lucifer is back.”
That comment from the Ohio Republican, reported on Twitter by his spokesman, was a reference to Cruz.
Boehner’s remark harks back to a comment he made in April, when he told an audience at Stanford University that he considered Cruz, “Lucifer in the flesh.”
He elaborated, according to Stanford Daily, by saying he has never “worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”
GOP delegates booed Cruz offstage Wednesday night when it became clear his speech to the convention would not include an endorsement of Trump.
Cruz has refused to rule out a run for president in 2020.