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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.
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
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