In a primetime address to the Republican National Convention Wednesday, Ted Cruz comparedGOP efforts to restrict immigration to the civil rights movement's fight against Jim Crow laws. But the Texas senator was loudly booed by Donald Trump supporters in the convention hall when it became clear that he was not going to endorse the man who beat him for the Republican presidential nomination. Instead, Cruz encouraged his audience to "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."
"We deserve leaders who stand for principle, unite us all behind shared values, cast aside anger for love," Cruz said, in what many considered the first campaign speech of his likely 2020 presidential campaign. "That is the standard we should expect, from everybody."
Rather than directly back Trump—who mocked his wife Heidi's looks during the primary campaign and once suggested Cruz's dad was complicit in the Kennedy assassination—Cruz used his prime-time slot to outline his vision of freedom.
"Freedom means free speech, not politically correct safe spaces," he said, taking a shot at progressive college campus activists. He rattled off a series of other bullet points—religious freedom, the right to bear arms, school vouchers, and repealing Obamacare. Each of those freedoms are typical conservative talking points that the party's nominee rarely mentions. Although Cruz's speech focused less on social conservative issues than it might have in years past, he included a call for Washington to stay out of defining issues like marriage.
But Cruz made sure to endorse parts of Trump's platform as well. He cited the success of the United Kingdom's recent Brexit vote as indicative of a growing populist wave. "We deserve an immigration system that puts America first and, yes, builds a wall to keep us safe, that stops admitting ISIS terrorists as refugees," Cruz said. "We deserve trade policies that put the interests of American farmers and manufacturing jobs over the global interests funding the lobbyists." Cruz had never previously campaigned as an economic protectionist.
Even as he adopted aspects of the current nominee's most controversial proposals, Cruz was careful to couch his political fight in the context of historical struggles. "Together we passed the Civil Rights Act, and together we fought to eliminate Jim Crow laws," he said. "Those were fights for freedom, and so is this."
One of the most important conservative politicians in Cleveland this week isn't even a Republican. It's Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party who led the successful push for Britain's exit from the European Union. Farage was invited to Cleveland by the Republican National Committee and was in the arena on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, he held court for a Brexit, er, breakfast gathering of reporters and delegates and offered his take on Trump.
The comparisons between Trump's nativist populism and the Brexit campaign's anti-immigration nationalism have been inescapable since last month's referendum, but Farage said he had "reservations" about the Republican nominee. "What Trump gets right, it seems to me, is he talks about some of the issues that perhaps others find a bit awkward or uncomfortable, they'd rather brush them under the carpet," he said. "And Trump's talked about those things, and that's generated a huge level of interest. My reservations were—I've been told I'm a bit over the top once or twice, but I think some of Trump's comments are a bit out there."
For instance, he said, the Muslim ban wouldn't cut it. "You know, to say that we would ban all Muslims from coming to America—apart from being false, given that there are quite a few citizens working overseas or they're serving in the US Army overseas and they're Muslim—I can see what he's trying to do," Farage said. "He's trying to get some big messages out there, some big wedge issues. He's trying to reach voters who feel frustrated and perhaps a little scared. I get what he's doing, but just the style of it makes me wince a little bit."
Farage was, like a lot of conservatives in Cleveland this week, favorably inclined but not entirely sold on Trump. But he was adamantly opposed to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, lamenting what he called "this sense of entitlement, as if this country now has its own hereditary principle." He added, "Might as well introduce the House of Lords to Washington." He stopped short, however, of endorsing Trump outright and swore off campaigning for any conservative politicians in the United States. He appeared to be taken aback by the size and fervor of the crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena.
"The American style of politics, the way they express themselves at this convention—and I'm sure it'll be some of the same next week—is completely different," he said. "There are no direct parallels to how we do things in the United Kingdom. Yeah, 'lock her up!'—quite strong stuff, isn't it?"
Farage is not speaking at the convention, but he is making the rounds at satellite events around town. He isn't the only notorious European politician who's come to bask in the orange glow of Trump. Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose anti-Muslim rhetoric in some ways presaged Trump's Muslim ban, headlined a "Gays for Trump" event at a club on Tuesday night.
The Republicans who learned to stop worrying and love the bomb-thrower (and those who didn't).
Tim MurphyJul. 20, 2016 6:00 AM
It really happened. On Tuesday night in Cleveland, Donald Trump officially became the Republican presidential nominee, ending a 12-month odyssey that exceeded the worst nightmares of virtually all his party's leading lights. Trump is unique in modern American politics, not just because almost no one expected him to win when he entered the race, but because of the bridge-burning way other Republican candidates, elected officials, pundits, and operatives discussed his candidacy.
But since he won the Indiana primary in May and became the presumptive nominee, many of Trump's most unflinching adversaries have, in fact, flinched, abandoning the Never Trump movement in the name of party unity or Hillary Clinton antipathy. Here's a quick guide to where the nominee's loudest critics stand now:
THE FULL 180
Marco Rubio: The senator from Florida called his Republican rival a "con artist" after a debate in February. Days before the Florida primary, he compared Trump to a Latin American strongman and warned that the movement Trump had sparked could be "dangerous and disastrous." After dropping out, he said he would be "honored" to speak on Trump's behalf at the convention.
Rick Perry: The former Texas governor denounced Trump as a "barking carnival act" and a "cancer" on conservatism during his brief presidential run, leading to rumors he might be recruited to run as an independent. In May, he told CNN he was available to serve as Trump's vice president.
Alex Castellanos: A GOP ad maker and CNN contributor, he tried to start an anti-Trump super-PAC last fall to convince conservatives Trump posed a "danger" to the country. In June, he signed on to work for a pro-Trump super-PAC.
Nikki Haley: South Carolina's governor invoked Charleston's 2015 mass shooting to warn that Trump was fomenting hate in a way that could lead to violence, telling a retirement community, "We can't have Donald Trump as president." She endorsed Trump two months later.
Lindsey Graham: The senator from South Carolina denounced his Republican rival as a "race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot." (He also called Trump a "jackass" and a "nut job" who should "go to hell.") Graham hasn't publicly backed Trump but reportedly urged donors to get on board.
John McCain: The 2008 GOP nominee bashed Trump as "uninformed and dangerous" on national security and asked Republican voters to choose someone else. When they didn't, he endorsed the candidate who referred to him and his fellow prisoners of war as fake war heroes.
Paul Ryan: The speaker of the House gave a special address to condemn Trump's Muslim ban, and another to denounce the tone of electoral politics. After Trump clinched the nomination, Ryan said he wasn't ready to endorse. Just weeks later, he did. When Trump attacked the Latino judge overseeing the Trump University case, Ryan called his argument "racist"—but held fast in his support.
Bobby Jindal: The failed 2016 primary candidate and former Louisiana governor called Trump an "egomaniac" and a "madman who must be stopped." He later published an op-ed endorsing the candidate, "warts and all."
Paul LePage: Six days after telling a meeting of Republican governors that they must denounce Trump, the Maine governor endorsed Trump. He has said he would like to join a Trump administration.
Hugh Hewitt: He's out, he's in, he's out, he's in. The thinking man's conservative talk radio host slammed Trump during the primary but urged listeners to "close ranks" when it was over. After the Orlando shooting, he proposed changing the rules of the convention to deny Trump the nomination, but then he backed off.
ON THE FENCE
Ted Cruz: Trump's leading rival during the primary, the Texas senator has stayed unusually quiet about whether he'll vote for the man who insulted his wife's looks and accused his dad of helping kill JFK.
Jeff Flake: The Arizona senator said he's not sure he can get behind Trump, even as Clinton makes a play for his state. In June, he urged his Senate colleagues not to rush to get behind their nominee: "Some of the things he's done I think are beyond the pale."
NEVER MEANS NEVER
Mark Kirk: The endangered Illinois senator endorsed Trump but rescinded his support after the nominee said a Chicago-born "Mexican" judge would be inherently biased against him in the Trump University fraud case. His campaign ads prominently note that Trump is "not fit" to be commander-in-chief.
Mitt Romney: Though he flew to Las Vegas to accept Trump's endorsement during the 2012 campaign, Romney denounced Trump inMarch. He has since said he's looking for an independent or third-party candidate.
Jeb Bush: In a July interview, Bush said "the bar's not that high" for a GOP nominee to win his support—but that Trump couldn't clear it. The two ex-presidents in his immediate family have both said they won't endorse the nominee. Jeb's mother, Barbara, told CBS News in June that she doesn't "know how women could vote for someone" like Trump, given his attacks on Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Rick Wilson: The longtime Republican ad maker and former Rubio backer helped start the #NeverTrump movement when his nomination looked unlikely, calling him a "scenery-chewing, oxygen-sucking political black hole." In June, he dubbed Trump "Cheeto Jesus."
Bill Kristol: Romney, Sasse, General James Mattis, and even little-known National Review columnist John French turned down the Weekly Standard founder's entreaties to challenge Trump as an independent. He's said he will vote for neither Trump nor Clinton.
Glenn Beck: The talk radio host compared Trump to Hitler, although in fairness, he compares lots of people to Hitler. He was suspended from his show in May after a guest mused about assassinating the GOP nominee. Beck has supported the idea of a third-party candidate but has not picked one himself.
The woman selling this t-shirt in downtown Cleveland, just a few hundred feet from the entrance to the Republican National Convention, told me, "I usually don't keep it out because I don't like children seeing it, but my boss said put one of each out."
And you can see why—the neon green color scheme is just hideous.
How Trump opponents tried and failed to block his nomination.
Pema Levy and Tim MurphyJul. 18, 2016 6:19 PM
On Monday afternoon, after the Republican National Convention officially opened, a series of speeches and pre-recorded videos by popular GOP politicians publicly conveyed a unified front for the GOP. But that lasted a short while. Within hours, a last-ditch effort to defeat Donald Trump exploded into shouting and protests on the convention floor—with the Never Trump movement ultimately failing to block Trump's path to the Republican nomination.
The final stand by Never Trump delegates focused on an effort to block the convention from adopting rules that would force anti-Trump delegates to vote for the real estate tycoon. Many delegates are required to vote for Trump because the rules of their state parties compel them to follow the will of the voters in the state. If the delegates were freed to vote their conscience, then it was possible that Trump would fail to garner the 1,237 votes needed for the nomination. In this Hail Mary scenario, delegates would have then held a series of votes until a nominee was chosen.
In order to free up convention delegates, the Never Trump movement hoped to reject the convention rules package on the floor. First, the anti-Trump delegates had to force the party to hold a roll-call vote, instead of a voice vote, on the rules. This required Never Trumpers to obtain the signatures of the majority of delegates from at least seven states. After that, anti-Trump delegates would have needed a majority of all the delegates to reject the rules package. It was unclear whether the anti-Trump forces could have bagged a majority of all the delegates. But Carl Bearden, a Missouri delegate and a member of the Never Trump movement, believes that had his side forced a roll-call vote and won, the convention would have reverted to a previous version of the rules, under which delegates bound to Trump could instead vote their conscience.
This was all a bit complicated. But what wasn't was the emotion and passions expressed as Never Trump delegates huddled in the halls and back rooms of Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena to put their plan in motion.
Their scheme had come together on the fly. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who became a vocal Never Trump advocate last week, met throughout the afternoon with a small group of conspirators, including former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli and Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, at the back of the convention floor. They eventually rounded up the support of eight states—Washington, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Maine—plus Washington, DC, two more than necessary. They handed off their petitions to Gordon Humphrey, a former US senator from New Hampshire, to deliver them to the convention secretary, Susie Hudson.
But Humphrey and his co-conspirators couldn't find her. The Never Trump delegates scoured the convention hall for her, and they texted around a photo with a small headshot of Hudson. They feared that she had gone into hiding to avoid receiving the petitions. (At one point, the Never Trump effort circulated a photo that purported to show Hudson hiding behind a curtain.) When Eric Minor, who led the Never Trump faction of the Washington state delegation, learned, secondhand, that Humphrey had finally handed the petitions to a Hudson emissary, he gleefully relayed the news to his colleagues. But he was only cautiously optimistic about their efforts. Would it work? "Who knows?" he said. "I don't know. Nobody knows."
It didn't work. Trump operatives, fearing an insurrection, pushed hard to peel off support from the anti-Trump crowd. Rick Dearborn, chief of staff to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, warned delegates that backing a roll-call vote for transparency purposes would undermine the convention by turning the attention of the network newscasts to the fracas. (Cuccinelli told reporters that Trump backers had threatened political retribution against Virginia delegates who supported a roll-call vote.)
Chaos ensued when the rules were ultimately brought up for a voice vote, as delegates from Virginia and a handful of other states chanted "shame!" and "I object!" and "no!" A frustrated Cuccinelli—in an apparent dig at Trump's complaints during the primary process—said, "Disenfranchised! I seem to remember hearing something about this." He took off his credentials and tossed the badges to the floor, appearing to concede defeat. Yet he was quickly persuaded to fight on, and he began waving the Virginia placard back and forth as if it were a flag.
Delegates from two states, Iowa and Colorado, walked out in protest. The roll-call backers who stayed behind struggled to get Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, who was overseeing the process, to acknowledge their objections. One Virginia delegate proposed throwing something on stage to get the chair's attention. (He elected not to.) The chants for recognition from the anti-Trump delegates were drowned out by a shouts of "We want Trump!" in the risers behind them. And the unamended rules were approved.
On the floor, anti-Trump delegates were furious. "That was so egregiously bad," Minor told a group of reporters huddled around him. "They do not want Trump to be embarrassed and they want to ramrod him through as the nominee."
Minor contended that the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign had not operated in good faith regarding the petition for the roll-call vote: "They have operated completely dishonestly from the get-go here."
Minor couldn't say whether the anti-Trump delegates would try to hold a walk-out or other form of protest later. (They had not yet had time to convene and discuss other options.) He wasn't even sure if he would remain a delegate. "I wouldn't be surprised based on this display right now if they try to yank my credentials, and I could not care one bit about it," he said. "There's no party unity for me."