Donald Trump gave Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a prime time speaking slot on the third night of the Republican National Convention, but Cruz did not return the favor with an official endorsement.
Cruz, who finished second to Trump in the Republican primaries, opened his speech on Wednesday by congratulating Trump on formally clinching the party’s presidential nomination the previous night.
But Cruz left it at that, without explicitly saying that he supports Trump, and then pivoted to a broad-ranging speech that reprised many of the themes from his own presidential campaign.
In response, delegates broke out into chants of “We want Trump” that drowned out parts of Cruz’s speech.
The Texas senator tried his best to ignore the chanting, and at one point ad-libbed that he “appreciated the enthusiasm” of delegates from Trump’s home state of New York.
But when Cruz finished speaking, the crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena broke out into a deafening chorus of boos as he walked off the stage.
In contrast, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, another one of Trump’s primary rivals, received a warm reception for his speech, in which he enthusiastically backed Trump. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the primaries in March, gave Trump a tacit endorsement in a brief video message.
“The time for fighting each other is over,” Rubio said. “It’s time to come together and fight for a new direction in America.”
After the speech, the reaction from delegates and other convention goers was mixed.
Cruz supporters expressed anger over the way he was treated, while some Trump supporters said they were pleased with the events on the floor.
Trump chimed in on Twitter around midnight, criticizing Cruz for ignoring a pledge he made during the primaries to back the party’s nominee.
“Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!” Trump wrote.
Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2016
The statement seemed to suggest that Trump was considering pulling Cruz from the program if he had not liked the speech ahead of time, though that would have left a last-minute hole in the speaker’s lineup.
The controversy surrounding Cruz overshadowed what should have been the biggest event of the night: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s vice presidential acceptance speech.
It was another awkward moment in a convention filled with mishaps. On Monday night, Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, gave a speech that lifted key sections from Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.
The plagiarism scandal became a leading story overnight and throughout the next day.
As delegates prepared for Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday, many said that the convention’s treatment of Cruz was a low point for the party.
“I don’t think it’s good for a convention to boo somebody who” finished in second place in the primaries, said Andy Borans, an executive from Indiana.
Borans said that he hoped the incident would be forgotten as Republicans focused on the general election. “I don’t think it had an effect on Trump,” he said.