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Who Came Off Worse — Cruz or Trump?

"Vote your conscience" line brings out party ire

Ted Cruz’s wife and father had to be escorted from an aggressive crowd on the Republican convention floor after the Texas senator’s explosive “vote your conscience” speech Thursday night in Cleveland. Party leaders who support Trump called Cruz a “traitor ” and a “disgrace.”  

One person in a donor suite had to be restrained from assaulting the former presidential candidate.  

Cruz’s speech — considered a blatant call to withhold votes from the Republican nominee Donald Trump — incited a rush of anger on the convention floor that went beyond the boos audible to television viewers, according to several reports.  

But some commentators saved a bit of wrath for Trump, saying that it was, at best, an extreme tactical error to allow Cruz to steal the spotlight.

Here are some of the worst things that have been said about both rivals since the speech.  

• Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison chased Cruz to the elevators to call him a traitor to his face, she told Seattle NBC affiliate KING 5.  

“I decided I was going to speak to him, and relay the anger that we all felt,” she said. “So, I went up to him and introduced myself, told him I was chairman of the Washington State Republican Party and what he did was inexcusable and he was a traitor to the party.”

• Casino magnate and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson rescinded an invitation to Cruz to join him in his suite. When Cruz, who has long sought Adelson’s support, tried to enter, he was turned away, CNN reported.  

“We could not allow Ted Cruz to use the Adelsons as a prop against Donald Trump,” senior Adelson aide Andy Abboud told CNN. “The Adelsons support Donald Trump and made that clear. They like Ted Cruz, but there was no way the Adelsons were going to be the first stop after not endorsing. That would be disrespectful to our nominee.”  

• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has recast himself as a member of Trump’s entourage since losing his own bid for the nomination, told NBC that Cruz’s address was an “awful, selfish speech ,” and that Cruz “showed himself tonight to not be a man of his word.”  

• New York Rep. Peter T. King, who has backed Trump since the Republican field largely narrowed down to a Trump-Cruz contest in April, called Cruz a “disgrace ” in an interview with NBC News. “To me, Ted Cruz showed America what he really is,” King said. “He’s a fraud. He’s a liar. He’s self-centered. He disqualified himself from ever being considered for president of the United States.”  

But some said that Trump shared some of the blame.  

• Leon H. Wolf, writing for the conservative blog Red State, said that the Trump camp knew what Cruz planned to say. But, he said, Cruz was allowed to go on stage anyway because the spectacle of a continued rivalry would play into Trump’s “selfish ” script, at the expense of party unity.  

“Trump’s supporters really and truly don’t understand how well he constantly plays them,” Wolf wrote. “He treats them exactly like he treats his reality TV audience, and he knows that the successful ingredient to any ‘reality’ TV show is the character [whom] everyone loves to hate.”  

• Josh Barro, a senior editor for Business Insider, posited that Trump allowed Cruz to steal the spotlight in return for the spectacle of Cruz — Trump’s biggest rival — getting booed off the stage. But it was a bad call , Barro wrote, because the strategy did not take into account how badly it could damage Trump.  

“The man who claims to be the world’s leading authority on deals made a really stupid deal in front of the entire country he hopes to lead,” Barro wrote. “Sad!”


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