Dispatches from Cleveland: Fallout from Wednesday’s Cruz Speech

Dispatches from Cleveland: Fallout from Wednesday’s Cruz Speech

By Ken Reid.

Mr. Reid, a former Leesburg District Supervisor, is reporting from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland where he is participating as an alternate delegate representing Virginia. Mr. Reid went to the convention supporting Donald Trump. The Tribune is inviting similar coverage from a participant at the Democratic National Convention that will follow.

The talk today around the nation and at the Republican National Convention is the failure of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump’s closest rival in the primaries, to not endorse nor say he would vote for Mr. Trump when he addressed the convention last night.

He was booed off the stage and even afterward, Cruz supporters told me they were ashamed.  Our delegation chairman, Ken Cuccinelli, reportedly had to shield Sen. Cruz’ wife, Heidi, from angry delegates.

It is customary for the loser of an election, primary or caucus to support the candidate who won – much like you want your kids to shake hands with the opposing team if their team loses.  You want to take the high road and show statesmanship and be magnanimous in defeat.  Good sportsmanship is important in politics as in any other competitive activity.

But many of the Virginia delegates, who by and large supported Cruz during the primaries, even though Trump won the popular vote, were ashamed of Cruz.

Social media lit up with division among Republicans.  Cruz supporters defended their man’s speech as “principled,” but Trumpsters felt it was self-serving and divisive.

As a result, some of our Virginia delegates and alternates went too far and took their anger out on the “Cruzers,” as they are called; jabbing their fingers “shame” at their fellow Republicans after the convention was over.  Today, Cruz doubled down in a speech to the Texas delegation that we heard about at our breakfast meeting, and said he won’t support a candidate (Trump) who insulted his wife and father.

But at our morning delegation breakfast, after hearing unity speeches from Trump backer Ben Carson and Cruz backer Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Virginia delegates, alternates and guests held a unity discussion with prayer.  We heard from Trump campaign staff and supporters urging Trumpsters not to take this out on Cruz delegates and volunteers.

One of our Cruz delegates spoke passionately about how this is “going to take us time, like a grieving process.”  Cuccinelli, one of Cruz’ top lieutenants in the campaign, said “I would have written the speech differently and put in the line ‘I will vote for Donald Trump.’”  Cuccinelli also agreed to beg off media interviews today so not to throw more gasoline on the fire.

We heard unifying messages from former Alexandria Vice Mayor Bill Cleveland, Rev. Leon Benjamin of Richmond, and Del. Kathy Byron, who represents southwest Virginia in the House of Delegates.

The night ended with a unifying speech from vice presidential nominee Mike Pence.  Being from the Cruz wing of the party, Pence helped close the night on a high note, and showed some humor too.

As we learned at our prayer/unity meeting today, there is a lot we can accomplish working together on a common goal instead of arguing over what divides us.

Tom Julia
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