RNC Day 3 Speeches: Crowd Boos Cruz, Chants "We Like Mike" for Pence
Eric Trump and Trump's VP pick Mike Pence were two of the speakers who took the stage after Ted Cruz's surprising speech at the RNC on Wednesday.
The third night of the Republican National Convention delivered highly anticipated speeches from Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and from his former GOP rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
While Pence stressed unity within the party amid the night's theme to "Make America First Again," Cruz delivered on the headline-making news that circulated before the night even began when he refused to endorse the official GOP nominee during his primetime address.
When Cruz took the stage, he stuck to the speech that was delivered ahead of time to media, saying very little about Trump in his speech. Instead, Cruz focused on criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration and on freedom. He did endorse some Trump policies, saying: "We deserve an immigration system that puts America first, and yes, builds a wall."
But when he urged voters to head to the polls to "vote your conscience," adding, "To those listening, don't stay home in November," the crowd realized that the official endorsement was not going to come.
The moment incited chants from the crowd, who began to shout "We want Trump." By the end, the crowd began to boo and Trump himself emerged from the back of the Quicken Loans Arena in a clear bid to pull attention away from his former rival. The cameras focused on a smiling Trump as he greeted and shook hands.
The Trump family and New York delegates were visibly disappointed while Cruz continued to smile on stage. After Cruz concluded his speech, the scene turned chaotic as supporters yelled "Say his name!" and booed while Cruz exited. His wife Heidi Cruz also had to be escorted out amid reports of an altercation with a donor.
Trump's son Eric Trump was next to take the stage and when he did, he at first repeated: "Wow."
Eric Trump, who told ABC's Good Morning America earlier that he "wrote every single word of my speech myself," then proceeded to deliver a passionate address about his father.
"Vote for the candidate who can’t be bought, sold, purchased, bribed, coerced, intimidated, or steered from the path that is right, and just, and true," he said. "And quite frankly friends, vote for the one candidate that does not need this job."
He continued: "Oprah Winfrey once famously asked my father if he ever envisioned funning for the presidency of the United States. His answer, only if it got so bad that I had no choice. Well ladies and gentleman that day has come."
Trump sat in the family box as Eric Trump spoke and appeared to leave the convention hall after he was done. But he appeared again after Pence concluded his speech later in the night.
Pence, the GOP vice presidential nominee, said the upcoming November race has the power to define the next 40 years when he took the stage.
"The choice couldn't be more clear," he said about Trump. "It's change versus status quo and my fellow Republicans, when Donald Trump becomes President of the United States of America the change will be HUGE."
The rousing speech was well received by the crowd, who chanted "we like Mike" while he spoke.
Ivanka Trump, who will be introducing her father Thursday night, spoke to CNN about Trump, her dad, compared to Trump the politician. "He is authentic. Nobody tells him who to be," she said in an interview that aired before the speeches kicked off Wednesday. "I know the man, so when I hear things that are factually inaccurate, it’s sometimes hurtful. I could never support someone who was sexist or racist. I know who he is as a human being and I know those things are not true."
Heading into the night, Trump's campaign was hoping to overshadow the controversy surrounding Melania Trump's plagiarized speech from her Monday night address.
Early this morning — after 36 hours of campaign denials — the campaign released a statement from the speechwriter who accepted responsibility for using portions of a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2008. Up until that point, the campaign had praised her speech, with only Donald Trump Jr. blaming the speechwriters. Meredith Mclver, an in-house staff writer at the Trump Organization, said in the statement: "I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused."
"Good news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!" Trump said on Twitter.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, radio host Laura Ingraham and two other former GOP rivals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (via video) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also were some of the night's speakers.
Repeating "America deserves better" during his speech, Walker took a page out of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's playbook by inciting the crowd to repeat his mantra about Clinton. "[She] is the ultimate liberal Washington insider," he said. "If she were anymore on the inside, she'd be in prison."
Rubio spoke via video, focusing most of his time on attacking Clinton. He did serve up an endorsement, saying he supports Trump. "The time for fighting each other is over," he says.
Gingrich went off-script when he took the stage in an attempt to smooth over Cruz's earlier refusal to outright endorse Trump.
“With no requirement for endorsement, [Trump] encouraged his competitors to speak once again," he said. "Gov. Rick Perry, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz have all responded to Donald comes generosity."
He continued: “So, to paraphrase Ted Cruz, if you want to protect the Constitution of the United States, the only possible candidate this fall is the Trump-Pence Republican ticket.”
The statement was reportedly not included in his prepared remarks sent to press.
He also said in his speech that the price Americans would pay for electing Clinton would be what he calls the "loss of America as we know it."
"We should be terrified at the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency," he said.
The night's speakers were expected to continue to take aim at Clinton — the presumptive Democratic nominee was the subject of a mock court session put on by Christie the night prior. He had the crowd chanting "Guilty!" and "Lock her up!" when reciting examples of Clinton's acts. Dr. Ben Carson also delivered an eyebrow-raising speech that linked Clinton to Lucifer.
Tuesday also saw humanizing speeches from his children Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. See those and other highlights from Day 2 here.
In addition to being plagued by the plagiarism controversy, the RNC has been hit with criticism that the focus on Clinton is upstaging the point of the convention — to unite the part and celebrate its nominee — and the overwhelmingly white gathering of delegates at the convention.
Several arrests were also made Wednesday afternoon right outside the convention. It appeared at least 10 arrests were made after two police officers were assaulted during an anti-Trump protest.
On Wednesday, Trump arrived to the Cleveland hall via helicopter. Melania Trump was not with him, but will be attending Thursday when her husband will formally accept the nomination with a speech. Trump's appearances tonight mark the third night in a row that he has bucked convention, as candidates typically do not appear until the final night.
Reaction to Cruz's refusal to endorse Trump was swift, with Trump himself taking to Twitter to comment on his failure to honor the night's pledge:
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