"My father wanted all the guys that wanted to be here, he wanted to give them a platform," Donald Trump Jr. explained
Trump, 70, announced in a tweet Wednesday night that he allowed his former rival to speak at the Republican National Convention despite knowing that Cruz, his toughest opponent during the primary, refused to endorse him. The speech resulted in the crowd turning on the Texas senator. His wife, Heidi Cruz, had to be escorted out of the arena.
“Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge!” Trump wrote, referring to a pledge GOP presidential candidates took early in their race to support eventual nominee. “I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!”
“My father wanted all the guys that wanted to be here, he wanted to give them a platform,” Trump Jr., who has been praised as having “the best speech of the convention” so far by Rachel Maddow, said. “I think he wants to show that he’s about unity, so he knew that was happening and he was a better man about it.”
Instead of endorsing Trump, Cruz told Republican voters to use their conscience.
“To those listening, please, don’t stay home in November,” he said. “Stand and speak and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
Cruz had felt increased pressure in the past few weeks to endorse Trump but couldn’t bring himself to do so after so much bad blood between the two candidates during the primary season. He spoke Trump’s name just once, when he said at the top of his speech, “I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the nomination last night.”