From Cleveland, Ohio –
Hours before he was due to address the 2016 Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz thanked supporters for their work for his campaign, giving no real indication that he was ready to offer Donald Trump a public endorsement in the race for President.
“There is a lot of talk about unity, I want to see unity – and the way to see unity is for us unite behind shared principles, us to unite in defense of liberty,” Cruz said to cheers, in what seemed like a jab at Donald Trump.
“We have been part of an amazing journey,” Cruz said to supporters and delegates from all over the country.
“I’m inspired by each and every one of you,” Cruz said, in an event that felt like Primary 2016 was still underway.
The event was much like one held a day earlier by Gov. John Kasich of Ohio – saying thanks to backers, not endorsing Trump, and leaving the light on for the idea of becoming President.
At times, supporters broke into chants of “2020!” – urging the Texas Senator to run again in four years.
“What an incredible privilege,” Cruz said it had been to have so many volunteers, so many people willing to fight for his quest for the GOP nomination.
“I don’t know what the future is going to hold,” Cruz said.
Before the event began at an outdoor bar on the water in Cleveland, the line of Cruz supporters stretched far into the parking lot, and walking down that line you could find a variety of opinions about what those delegates would do in November.
While their hearts still had Cruz buttons on them, the idea of voting for Donald Trump was not a slam dunk for some.
“I am trying to get there,” admitted one Cruz delegate from Utah, who was still stung by having his state’s votes changed from Cruz to Trump because of Republican Party rules.
But as I walked down the line of people a few more feet, it wasn’t hard to find a Cruz supporter who was ready to pull the lever for Trump.
“He’s not perfect, but he’s certainly so much better than the alternative,” said Brian McAuliffe, a delegate from Texas.
“I’ve been in politics long enough to know I don’t always get 100 percent of what I want, but if I can get 95 percent, I go for 95 percent,” McAuliffe said.
How many Republicans think like that could be key for Donald Trump in November, as many Cruz, Kasich and other supporters continue to have troubles with their party’s nominee for President.