You can say this about him; Ted Cruz stuck to his guns. Texas' junior senator, after a presidential campaign that saw him call the GOP presidential nominee a "sniveling coward" and "utterly amoral" thumbed his nose at Donald Trump during his speech Wednesday night at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
"I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night," Cruz said early in his speech, pointing to a potential reconciliation between two candidates that attacked each others wives, principles and integrity.
He never mentioned Trump again.
Instead, Cruz outlined his vision for America and the Republican Party — staunch conservatism mixed with strict constitutionalism — and urged the crowd to vote for candidates who shared that vision. The crowd took that as a cue to not vote for Trump, whose conservative credentials are thin.
"If you love our country and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience," he said, to a growing chorus of boos led by the convention's New York delegation, who've been given a prime spot near the stage as Trump's home state.
Cruz went on, taunting the crowd with several pregnant pauses that hinted that an endorsement might be coming. It wasn't. As Cruz wrapped his speech, the booing grew louder. Heidi Cruz, Ted's wife, had to be escorted from the floor of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Cruz' prepared remarks reportedly would've run nine minutes. He spoke for 23.
Now, Cruz's going to have to put up with an angry Trump crew. Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and one of the first mainstream politicians to get behind Trump in late February, called Cruz's speech "awful and selfish." Congressman Peter King of New York called Cruz a "total fraud" who "should never be considered for public office again" on an NBC interview broadcast from the convention floor.
Newt Gingrich, taking the stage after Cruz, tried to put the toothpaste back in the tube. “Ted Cruz said, ‘You can vote your conscience for anyone who will uphold the Constitution,’” Gingrich said. “In this election there is only one candidate who will support the Constitution.”
It was incredible — presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who's seen everything, tweeted that he'd "never seen anything quite like this." You can watch Cruz's full speech below: