The latest reporting Wednesday night indicated Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) had told Donald Trump he wouldn’t endorse him at the convention days ahead of his speaking slot, giving team Trump ample time to ready a counter-attack.
Cruz told Trump of his decision not to give an endorsement at the GOP convention in a phone call two days ago, Cruz strategist Jason Johnson told the Associated Press. In a tweet after the evening’s events came to an close, Trump said he’d seen Cruz’s speech two hours early.
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin tweeted early in the evening that Trump convention czar Paul Manafort, no stranger to political power struggles, “owns the floor” and advised viewers to closely watch the crowd’s reaction to Cruz’s speech.
— Mark Halperin (@MarkHalperin) July 21, 2016
Citing two anonymous sources, Time magazine reported the Trump campaign actively whipped the loud boos that washed over Cruz as he completed his address.
Asked after the uproar about the campaign’s role, Manafort demurred but didn’t deny involvement.
PAUL MANAFORT just grinned and chuckled when asked by @MarkHalperin if Trump aides encouraged boos of Cruz from floor
— Robert Costa (@costareports) July 21, 2016
Those reports raised more than a few eyebrows after convention attendees started booing Cruz en masse after the senator finished his more than 20-minute-long speech without an explicit endorsement of his party’s nominee, mentioning Trump’s name just once in congratulations.
While the rowdiness persisted even through Newt Gingrich’s opening, it somewhat subsided as he played peacemaker with an ad-libbed effort to reframe Cruz’s remarks. But unruly convention-goers again appeared to boo when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s newly minted running mate, took the stage.