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Cruz on running as Trump's VP: 'It ain't going to happen'

Sen. Ted Cruz defended his take on "New York values," vowed to put in better border protection and ruled out running on a Trump ticket during an MSNBC town hall meeting recorded at the University at Buffalo today.

Asked by moderator Chuck Todd whether he would definitely not accept being Donald Trump's vice president, Cruz responded: "Chuck, it ain't going to happen." Later, during a stop at Charlie the Butcher, where he tasted beef on weck, Cruz told reporters Trump was afraid to debate him.

About 300 people filled the Katharine Cornell Theatre at UB to see Cruz record the MSNBC event, which will air on the cable channel at 8 p.m. tonight. The question-and-answer session, which lasted about 30 minutes, began with a question on Cruz's controversial take on "New York values."

Cruz said he doesn't regret the comment, which he made well before the New York primary was in play. "New Yorkers understood what it meant," Cruz said.

Questions during the event spanned a variety of issues, including birth control, transgender bathroom rights, Congressional dysfunction and illegal immigration.

See how Cruz's visit to Amherst unfolded with updates from Susan Schulman, Sandra Tan, Matthew Spina, Derek Gee, John Hickey, Mark Mulville, Qina Liu.

1:40 p.m.: Cruz's lunch tray included beef on weck, Loganberry and a big jar of horseradish.

1:27 p.m.: Cruz used at a stop at Charlie the Butcher to criticize Donald Trump for not debating him. He also tried beef on weck and Loganberry.

Cruz told a swarm of reporters outside the restaurant that Trump is afraid to debate him and is not accountable to the people.

"I believe the president should be accountable to the people," Cruz said.

1:10 p.m.: A crowd awaited Cruz as he arrived at Charlie the Butcher after the town hall meeting. Hillary Clinton made the same stop at the beef on weck favorite during her visit to Western New York on Friday.

1:06 p.m.: University at Buffalo political science professor James Campbell told Sandra Tan after the event that Cruz did a good job broadening his message while sticking to his core values.

Campbell, who was one of the audience members, noted that Cruz was hit with a lot of questions about his ability to compromise and work with people within his own party during the question-and-answer session.

Campbell thought Cruz positioned himself as a person willing to work with others if they are supportive of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and efforts to reduce the role of the federal government.

Sen. Ted Cruz meets with members of the audience during a commercial break in a town hall meeting sponsored by MSNBC at UB on Thursday. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

12:56: p.m.: Cruz mingled with the crowd at UB before heading to a planned stopped at Charlie the Butcher for beef on weck.

12:40 p.m.: Cruz got a standing ovation before the town hall meeting wrapped up.

12:39 p.m.: Cruz on running as Trump's VP: "It ain't going to happen."

12:36 p.m.:  Cruz said he can't compromise on the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. He also said he believes the Constitution protects unborn children.

12:34 p.m.: Audience members got more adept at surrounding Cruz for selfies and handshakes during commercial breaks as the event went on.

Ted Cruz meets with members of the audience during a commercial break in a town hall meeting sponsored by MSNBC at UB. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

12:28 p.m.: Cruz gave credit to Donald Trump for raising the issue of illegal immigration, but put out his own call for beefing up border protection.

12:18 p.m.: After a commercial break, Cruz weighed in on controversial transgender bathroom bills.

12:16 p.m.: Another commercial break gave Cruz a chance to sign autographs.

12:14 p.m.: Moderator Chuck Todd pressed Cruz on abortion and birth control.

12:07 p.m.: The Cruz campaign has confirmed the senator will stop at Charlie the Butcher on Wehrle Drive after the MSNBC town hall meeting has concluded.

12:06 p.m.: Cruz said he does not regret calling Mitch McConnell a liar.

12:04 p.m: A commercial break was a chance for some in the audience to ask for selfies and shake hands with the candidate.

12:02 p.m.: In response to a question about the October 2013 federal government shutdown, Cruz blamed a broken political system, rather than himself.

"If I'm elected president, I will work very closely with the leaders in Congress," Cruz said.

Later asked why the Republican establishment doesn't like him, Cruz responded: "Washington is an amazingly corrupting place."

11:45 a.m.: The overflow crowd who missed a chance to see Cruz inside the event were given a hint on where to go to get a glimpse of the senator: Charlie the Butcher.

11:42 a.m.: It did not take long for Sen. Ted Cruz to confront his earlier take on "New York values" during a stop in Amherst today.

The first questioner during an MSNBC town hall event recorded at the University at Buffalo took on the controversial Cruz comment and asked the candidate to define his values.

Cruz said he doesn't regret the comment, which he made well before the New York primary was in play.

"People understood what it meant," said Cruz, adding that the phrase came from Donald Trump. "New Yorkers understood what it meant."

He also took a shot at the state's Democrats. "The people of Upstate New York, you guys have been suffering under the misguided policies of liberals for a long, long time," Cruz said.

11:40 a.m.: Moderator Chuck Todd kicked off an MSNBC town hall meeting with Sen. Ted Cruz this morning by noting Western New York is not Cruz's territory.

Todd cheered on the UB Bulls. Then, it was on to Take 2. Todd's mic was broken.

"Are you kidding me?" laughed Todd, adding, "That's why we do it on tape."

As they started again, Todd asked Cruz if he's had a chance to sample chicken wings yet.

Cruz said he flew in late last night. "Wings for breakfast is a bit much."

11:32 a.m.: Moderator Chuck Todd opened by acknowledging that Western New York is Trump country.

11:28 a.m.: Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and his aides, Scott Kroll and Bryan Fiume , were in the crowd.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, center, was in the crowd for a town hall meeting with presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz sponsored by MSNBC at UB. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

11:25 a.m.: About 300 people, including students, Republicans and small business owners, filled the Katharine Cornell Theatre at UB to see Cruz during the MSNBC recording.

Participants were given instructions as shortly before the start. Questions, they were told, were submitted ahead of the event and selected by staff from the cable news channel. The Cruz campaign did not review the questions.

As the theater filled up, some spectators outside still hoped to get a glimpse of Cruz. About 50 people were on a wait list to get in shortly before the invitation-only town hall meeting was scheduled to begin.

Many of the attendees were Cruz supporters, with some sporting red stickers with the candidate's name.

"He's a strong constitutionalist," said UB student Ruth Kelley.

11:19 a.m.: University at Buffalo students have gotten a rare glimpse into the national political scene this year as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stopped on campus this week.

UB student David Mohr was among those trying to see all the candidates who swing through Western New York.

"I was excited New York was involved," Mohr told Sandra Tan. "Normally candidates don't come here."

11:04 a.m.: Some still hoped to get in the theater, but the venue had limited seating.


11:02 a.m.: Ted Cruz has arrived.

10:57 a.m.: The theater has filled up as people listen to instructions before the start of the event.


10:48 a.m.: The News' John Hickey reports that Cruz just left the Hyatt and is expected to arrive at UB in about 15 minutes.

10:41 a.m.: About 300 people will attend the town hall meeting, which will be recorded a in theater where political satirist Mark Russell performed for years.

10:34 a.m.: Some seats inside the theater have started to fill up. Outside, in line, supporters gave differing views on why they support Cruz.

Pendleton resident Steve Peters said he will vote for Cruz because of his support for the First and Second Amendments.

A nearby bystander added, "And he's not Donald Trump."

10:30 a.m.: A crowd of about 120 people, including students, Republicans and small business owners, lined up outside the Katharine Cornell Theatre on
the University at Buffalo North Campus this morning to see Ted Cruz.

Some said they were undecided. Others had questions prepared for the invitation-only town hall meeting that will air on MSNBC at 8 p.m. tonight.

James Wangelin, a Republican, hoped to hear what Cruz would do for small business owners in Western New York. Marty Brownsey, who said he was still
undecided, has been trying to see all five candidates.

"This will be the third one I've seen, so this will be awesome," Brownsey told The News' Qina Liu.

Kevin Dunshee was there to listen -- and snap a picture of the moment.

"I'm here to see Ted Cruz, see what he has to say, and hopefully get a selfie," Dunshee said

10:17 a.m.: Chuck Todd, who will moderate today's MSNBC town hall meeting, has arrived.

Meanwhile, the line has grown outside the theater, including about 15 members of the College Republicans. Some said they were still undecided.

"I'm expecting to hear a lot more from him, especially how he can help college students," said College Republican Read Tighe of Cruz.

Douglas Wessells, another College Republican, planned to ask Ted Cruz why Bernie Sanders has the strongest following among university students.

9:57 a.m.: There were many students among about 120 people who were in line to see Ted Cruz.

9:32 a.m.: A line formed outside the Katharine Cornell Theatre as spectators awaited the 11 a.m. event organized by MSNBC.


9:30 a.m.: First, it was the Clintons. Then Bernie. Now, Ted Cruz takes a spin through Erie County as the presidential hopefuls pack in New York State appearances ahead of Tuesday's Democratic and Republican primaries.

Unlike his counterparts, Cruz won't be pumping up supporters at a large campaign rally in Western New York. His visit this morning will be a more subdued affair in front of an invitation-only crowd of about 300 at the University at Buffalo's North Campus in Amherst.

Cruz is scheduled to take part in a town hall meeting hosted by NBC's Chuck Todd at 11 a.m. today at UB's Katharine Cornell Theatre, where a quiet line of about 120 spectators and members of the press had formed shortly before 10 a.m. The question-and-answer session will air on MSNBC at 8 p.m. tonight.

After the television event, Cruz is scheduled to fly back to New York City for a Republican party dinner tonight.

By contrast, Donald Trump is slated to appear at a rally Monday night at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

Cruz in Buffalo

  • 11 a.m.: A town hall-style meeting moderated by Chuck Todd of NBC's "Meet the Press" will be recorded at 11 a.m. in the Katharine Cornell Theatre on the University at Buffalo's North Campus.
  • 8 p.m.: Town hall meeting will air on MSNBC.

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If you want to hear the sound of political crisis of conscience in action, tune your radio dial to WBEN 930 AM. The WBEN airwaves are crackling with anxiety over the outcome of the primary, the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency and the state of a Republican Party on the brink of a generational realignment.

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