CLEVELAND -- Ted Cruz tried to ignore the name on Wednesday afternoon. He spoke for 15 minutes and didn’t mention it once.
But when he finally acknowledged to the Cleveland crowd that he would not be its GOP presidential nominee, the name – Trump -- found its way onto the scene anyway – perhaps befitting for the election of 2016.
“Our party now has a nominee,” Cruz told the several hundred at the outdoor rally.
A chorus of boos arose – before turning into jeers as Trump’s private 757 airplane flew threw the sky at that moment directly behind the backdrop of Cruz’s stage.
Cruz looked up and, smiling, said: “All right, that was pretty well orchestrated!”
Cruz’s event, hosted to thank his delegates and supporters in town, served as an acknowledgement of Trump’s victory and his own assurance to the crowd that his national efforts are far from over.
“This campaign, I believe, was about a lot more than one campaign or one candidate – this was a movement all across this country,” Cruz said. Multiple times during his speech, chants of “2020” gently rang out.
Cruz is set to speak at 9:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday night, a prime slot for the candidate who has still yet to throw an endorsement behind Trump.
His campaign manager, Jeff Roe, noted to reporters before the rally that there’s “six hours left” for Cruz to make that call from the convention podium. Yet there is still little indication the Texas senator will make that move – despite the selection of conservative Mike Pence as Trump’s running mate and the candidate’s spoken commitment to selecting conservative Supreme Court justices.
“This is a process – yeah, in due time,” Roe said, seeming to acknowledge Trump’s efforts to appease the Cruz’s faction of the party. “This is a process. Ted’s going to watch – he’s going to watch and see how other people are doing, like millions of people, and pay attention to the race, [and] see how he’s – see how [Trump] conducts himself.”
Cruz’s planned speech to the convention had yet to be screened by the Trump campaign as of early Wednesday afternoon, but he intended to send it in by the evening.
Much of the skepticism over a potential Cruz endorsement hinges on Cruz’s rejection of Trump shortly before suspending his campaign as a “sniveling coward” and a “bully.”
Trump created a caricature out of Cruz during the blistering primary, labeling him as “Lyin’ Ted.” The real estate mogul also retweeted an unflattering photo of his wife, Heidi Cruz, and suggested Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, played a part in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
But on Wednesday, signaling perhaps the biggest opening yet by Cruz orbit to a possible endorsement, Roe noted Cruz is “not petty like that” to let personal attacks affect his decision on who he will endorse.
“This is big boy politics, right? It’s a presidential election -- everybody is going to say everything they possibly can do to win elections,” Roe said. “So I think it’s less – he’s not petty like that.”
Roe, while talking to reporters before the rally, took a call from Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chair. When he returned to the huddle of reporters, he said he chats “all the time” with Manafort.