Cruz speech reinforces GOP divide

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From Cleveland, Ohio –

The morning after the non-endorsement of Donald Trump by Ted Cruz, that convention speech was the talk of Republican delegate breakfast meetings all over Cleveland, as Cruz stuck to his guns, and GOP leaders of all stripes grappled again with how to get the GOP united behind Trump in November.

Cruz didn’t run out of town after last night’s speech, as he faced criticism directly this morning when he went to speak to delegates from his home state of Texas.

“I’m not going to get into criticizing or attacking Donald Trump, but I’ll give you this response: I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father,” Cruz told Texas delegates.

“Neither he nor his campaign has taken back a word of what they said about my family,” Cruz said, reminding delegates of the pointed attacks against him and his wife by Trump.

At other delegation meetings, the Cruz speech was on everyone’s mind as well.

“I won’t say the evening was contentious, I think the evening was politics,” Georgia GOP chairman John Padgett said in a dismissive voice, as he acknowledged there was a lot of “finger pointing” among his state’s delegates after the Cruz speech.

“It was an eventful night to say the least,” said Georgia delegate Louie Hunter – an original Cruz supporter – with a smile.

“I think he (Cruz) may have miscalculated just a little bit,” Hunter said.

Over at the Ohio breakfast – where Trump critic Gov. John Kasich showed up on Thursday – delegates there were also still stunned by the turn of events on the convention floor.

“As the Cruz speech progressed, we were just all looking around at each other, like what is going on? What is he doing?” said Ohio delegate Niraj Antani.

“And the crowd just turned on him,” Antani added.

Across town at the meeting of the Florida delegation, Gov. Rick Scott was besieged with questions from reporters about Cruz.

“The party needs to unify; everybody needs to support Donald Trump,” said Scott, who refused to say anything directly about Cruz.

Cruz had been warmly received at the start of his speech to the convention on Wednesday night, when he congratulated Donald Trump on winning the GOP nomination – but that changed near the end.

“We will unite the party, we will unite the country by standing together for shared values, by standing for liberty,” Cruz said – but as it became apparent he would end his speech without an endorsement of Cruz, the arena exploded in boos.

At the beginning of that video, you can hear someone in the cheap seats scream, “SAY TRUMP!” as many had been yelling at Cruz for a few minutes, demanding that he endorse the GOP nominee.

The boos were loud in the arena, and from all over – not just one delegation here or there.

But not everyone was worried about the aftermath of Wednesday night.

“The 1964 Goldwater convention was dramatically more divisive,” said former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“This is a very mild convention,” Gingrich told reporters at the Florida delegation breakfast.

But Gingrich also had some sharp words for Cruz.

“That was silly for him to do it, he got the result he earned,” Gingrich told reporters.

“Whether or not he’ll learn anything from it, I don’t know.”

As for Trump, last night he had brushed off the Cruz speech as ‘no big deal.’

But today, it was obvious that Cruz had gotten under his skin – again.