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New York delegates still booing Ted Cruz

CLEVELAND -- Sen. Ted Cruz talked and talked, and talked and talked, but the delegates from New York who were right in front of him in Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night didn't hear what they wanted to hear.

They didn't hear what they expected to hear. And so a chant started about three rows back.

"Endorse Trump! Endorse Trump!"

And so began a floor revolt that came to engulf almost every delegation at the Republican National Convention, a revolt that created a nationally televised image of a deeply divided Republican Party.

In interviews Thursday morning with delegates who were on the floor and other New Yorkers who were elsewhere in the arena, a story emerges of an organic uprising -- one that the New Yorkers are still proud to have started, given what they see as the ghastly betrayal that Cruz perpetrated on the stage in front of them.

"The New York delegation was engaged in a way I've never seen," said Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican who joined in the "Endorse Trump" chants. "The boos kept getting louder. There was just more and more energy."

And for good reason, Reed added.

"In my mind, what he (Cruz) did was disrespectful," Reed said.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw put it another way.

"I thought it was classless," Mychajliw said.

It didn't start out that way. New York delegates and others cheers as Cruz began his red-meat Republican speech.

But then Cruz kept talking, and the endorsement the delegates expected wouldn't come, wouldn't come. Reed, Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas J. Langworthy and others on the floor turned around to watch the huge teleprompter on the wall behind them, which spelled out Cruz's speech a few words before he said them, hoping to see the endorsement that never came.

Just then the "Endorse Trump" chant started -- not from Langworthy or Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino or others in the front, but from about three rows back, Langworthy said.

It didn't take long for the chant to reach the rafters, New Yorkers located elsewhere in the arena said. And all of a sudden, about 15 minutes into Cruz's 20 minute speech, the chant turned to boos -- all because of something Cruz said.

"Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience," he said. "Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

To Michael Madigan of Grand Island and other New Yorkers throughout the arena, those words were a direct echo of the "Never Trump" movement's failed call to unbind the delegates to allow them to vote their conscience -- and for someone other that New York developer Donald J. Trump, the candidate who finished first in the primaries.

"If he's going to do that, he seems like a sore loser," Madigan said of Cruz. "Be a man. You lost."

With other New Yorkers thinking the same thing, the boos only grew -- fueled, no doubt, by their memories of Cruz as the candidate who lashed out at "New York values" during the primaries, said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a delegate on the floor.

And within seconds, the boos came to engulf the entire arena. Only the Texas delegation, and "Never Trump" holdouts from Colorado, seemed reluctant to take part.

"Senator Cruz was exercising his First Amendment right -- and when I heard what he said, I thought: I'm going to exercise my First Amendment right to give him a boo," said Buffalo attorney John Schmidt, who joined the chorus when the boos reached the seating for alternates just off the floor.

Cruz wasn't one to let the boos pass, either.

"I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation," Cruz responded.

Cruz's sarcasm only made an angry crowd angrier. The boos drowned out Cruz's last words. Then he turned and walked away from the podium, stopping and turning again and, strangely, taking a bow.

Meanwhile, on the floor near the Virginia delegation, delegates started taunting Cruz's wife, Heidi Cruz, chanting the name of her employer -- Goldman Sachs -- as if it were an epithet. Security staff had to surround Cruz and escort her from the building for her safety.

Surprisingly, with chaos all around, silence enveloped small corner of the area: the Trump family box.

Donald Trump arrived near the end of Cruz's speech, turning the boos in the crowd to cheers. But according to Rep. Chris Collins and State Republican Chairman Ed Cox, not much was said in the Trump box despite the pandemonium all around.

"It was very stoic," Collins, R-Clarence, said of the Trump family's reaction to the Cruz speech.

"All of us in the box were trying to be gracious," Cox said

By Wednesday morning, though, there were no signs of grace either from the Texas senator.

Facing sharp questioning from the Texas delegation, Cruz said he had good reason to not endorse Trump.

"I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father," Cruz said according to CNN, in reference to comments made by Trump during the primary campaign.

For his part, Trump appeared to laugh off the dust-up.

'Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn't honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!" Trump tweeted.

But nothing could assuage Trump's loyal New York supporters, who, one by one, raged at the Texas senator for breaking  the pledge he made to endorse the Republican candidate no matter who it was.

"He made himself look like a very small man last night," Collins said.

Even the pastor who delivered the benediction at the New York delegation breakfast on Thursday, Rev. Michel Faulkner, took Cruz to task.

"Lord, help him with his dysfunction and everything he has to deal with," Faulkner said.

For his part, Cox showed somewhat less generosity of spirit.

"Ted Cruz could have been a hero last night if he had endorsed Donald Trump," Cox said. "Instead, he committed political suicide."

email: jzremski@buffnews.com

 

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