CLEVELAND – The Trump train’s about to leave the station, and at least one question remains: will it leave without Ted Cruz, or will Trump’s bitter rival climb on board?
The Texas senator is set to deliver his prime-time address in Cleveland – with no indication yet that he plans to endorse the Republican nominee. It is widely believed that Cruz is positioning himself for another presidential run, be it four or eight years down the road. And while his speech before the national convention Wednesday night represents a reconciliation of sorts with Donald Trump, the nominee’s campaign manager stopped short of predicting an outright endorsement from Cruz.
“I think he'll say something and give a sign of where he is on Donald Trump that would be pleasing to the Trump campaign and Republicans,” Paul Manafort told reporters Wednesday morning.
He said their operations have been “talking back and forth” about Cruz’s planned speech. Manafort said he planned to look at a draft soon.
“I'm comfortable that Senator Cruz is going to talk about his vision for America,” he said.
While party unity was on display Tuesday night, Cruz’s address could have an impact. He placed second in the delegate count during the nominating process on the floor, and still has plenty of loyal supporters in the convention hall – some of whom disrupted proceedings on Monday.
But come Tuesday night, after Trump and running mate Mike Pence were formally nominated, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other party leaders tried to bring the delegates and GOP voters together.
“Our candidates will be giving their all, they’ll be giving their utmost, and every one of us has got to go and do the same,” Ryan said from the convention podium in Cleveland.
Perhaps more than any other GOP leader on Capitol Hill, Ryan has had his share of scrapes with Trump over the nominee’s controversial remarks and tactics – but he closed his address Tuesday night with a call to action, saying, “Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way.”
“Fellow Republicans, what we have begun here, let’s see this thing through, let’s win this thing, let’s show America our best and nothing less,” Ryan said.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a former primary rival turned supporter, later warned that the country “may never recover” from another Clinton presidency -- saying, “I’m proud to support Donald Trump.”
“Now is the time for us to rise up and take America back,” Carson said.
Trump also addressed the convention hall via video message, saying: “This is a movement … but we have to go all the way.’
While party leaders called for unity, many of the convention speakers focused heavily once again on Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary Clinton has changed her position so many times, it’s impossible to tell where the conviction ends and the ambition begins,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was considered for running mate before Trump ultimately chose Pence, delivered one of the toughest speeches of the night on Clinton. His address was frequently interrupted by chants from the crowd of “lock her up.”
“We cannot promote someone to commander-in-chief who has made the world a more violent and dangerous place with every bad judgment she has made,” Christie said. “The facts of her life and career disqualify her.”