Republican leaders attempted Wednesday to steer their national convention in a more substantive and unified direction behind GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, but their efforts came up against an eruption of lingering bitterness from the brutal primary campaign season.
The capstone of the evening was supposed to be a speech by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the newly named vice-presidential nominee. But the more riveting moment came earlier, when Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) pointedly refused to endorse Trump, who had bested him in the race for the nomination, and urged Republicans to “vote your conscience.”
Cruz’s decision not to get behind Trump angered Trump’s loyal delegates, who began loudly booing and shouting at him as he attempted to wrap up his speech.
You can see the spectacle for yourself courtesy of C‑SPAN (at around the twenty minute mark, Trump’s backers begin to make their displeasure known):
Trump himself made his displeasure known by deliberately walking out into the hall just as Cruz was delivering the final lines of his speech, waving to his backers and giving them the thumbs up sign. The networks immediately pivoted away from Cruz to Trump’s planned retributive interruption, and while Cruz could still be heard speaking, viewers were seeing Trump onscreen instead.
Trump also belittled Cruz on Twitter.
“Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!” Trump tweeted.
The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, sent out an email neatly summarizing all of Cruz’s denunciations of Trump from earlier this year, saying it’s understandable that Cruz wouldn’t want to make an endorsement.
- Cruz: “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward.”
- Cruz: “Donald does seem to have an issue with women. Donald doesn’t like strong women.”
- Cruz: “Donald doesn’t do very well in foreign policy [because] he doesn’t have even a basic modicum of knowledge.”
- Cruz: “Donald has had a long career of using great wealth and power trying to bully others.”
- Cruz said Trump was “engaging in demagoguery.”
- Cruz: “Of course it’s inappropriate to be attacking a federal judge’s race or ethnicity”
- Cruz: “Donald’s campaign, his entire campaign is built on a lie.”
The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner reports that after Cruz’s speech, he had an encounter with Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison, who has ingloriously turned into one of Trump’s biggest local boosters:
Hutchison ran into Cruz, the former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination, near an elevator at the Quicken Loans Arena.
She said she told him his speech was “inexcusable” and called him a “traitor to the party.”
The encounter was awkward given that Washington’s delegation is stacked with Cruz supporters.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Susan Hutchison wanted to lead King County, the state’s largest jurisdiction. Nowadays, though, Hutchison feels contempt for King County — and Seattle in particular — because it’s a Democratic bastion:
When state GOP chairman Susan Hutchison announced Washington’s votes for Trump in the traditional roll call of the states Tuesday, she talked about wheat fields, volcanoes and Boeing planes.
She didn’t mention the Space Needle, the Seahawks or any other reference to the state’s biggest city.
That was no accident, Hutchison told delegates at Wednesday’s breakfast meeting.
“I specifically left out Seattle this year,” she said, citing the state’s “massive Democratic votes” year after year. “It’s just time for the people of the rest of the state to recognize how important they are.”
It’s ironic that Hutchison has been engaging in so much Seattle-bashing lately, considering it’s the place she calls home. She and her family live in Laurelhurst, which is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city. They evidently like our state’s largest city enough to live there in spite of its progressive politics.
Hutchison’s petty, silly diatribes against Seattle are misplaced. Seattle and King County aren’t the reason why Democrats consistently win statewide contests, for they can be outvoted. It’s counties like Snohomish, cities like Bellingham, and coastal communities like Port Townsend or Aberdeen that have delivered Washington for Democratic candidates time and again.
King County’s turnout as a whole has actually been known to lag behind the statewide average, especially in midterm and odd numbered years.
However, it picks up in presidential years (as does turnout in many swing counties west of the Cascades), driven in part by Democratic get out the vote efforts.
Seattle trash talk may feel therapeutic for the militant right wing Republicans who view the city as an obstacle in the way of their schemes to turn Washington into the next Wisconsin, but it’s not going to broaden their party’s appeal.
The things Seattelites want are the same things that Washingtonians from every corner of the state want: great public schools, equality for all, safe neighborhoods, broad prosperity, fair taxes, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the protection of our wild and majestic places for future generations.
Republicans’ past attempts to pit suburban and rural voters against Seattle voters have ended in failure, but they haven’t seem to have learned much of anything from those experiences. Their bitterness is showing.