One day after Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump in a speech that has since been defined as a historic, once-in-a-generation event, and yet one which supposedly Trump had vetted in advance, Donald Trump went on the war path against Cruz.
At a convention farewell event in Cleveland with running mate Mike Pence, Trump said he doesn’t want Cruz’s endorsement, blamed the Texas senator for making their wives fair political game, and said he had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory he promoted in the primary, that Cruz’s father had been seen with President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
Trump tore into his primary rival on Friday morning, saying he would not accept the Texas senator’s endorsement and threatening to fund a Senate challenger against Cruz.
"If he gives it, I will not accept it," Trump said at a Friday morning press conference in Cleveland. “He’ll come and endorse in the next little while because he has no choice,” Trump added. “I don’t want his endorsement. Ted, stay home, relax, enjoy yourself.
"Honestly, he should have done it, because nobody cares, and he would have been in better shape four years from now — I don't see him winning anyway frankly, but if he did it's fine. Although maybe I'll set up a Super PAC if he decides to run," he added. Turning to his running mate, he said, “Are you allowed to set up a super-PAC, Mike, if you are the president, to fight somebody?”
According to Bloomberg, the move renews questions about whether Trump will follow a more traditional playbook in the general election against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, or hang onto grievances from a bitter Republican primary campaign.
As reported previously, Cruz defended his non-endorsement of Trump on Thursday, stating that his speech was intended to provide a clear unified vision for the Republican party. "Discussing what we should stand for — that we should be standing for freedom and defending the Constitution — is a message of unity. And as I said last night very explicitly, the way to unify the party is not to scream and yell and hurl insults," he said.
Cruz has also said he would not endorse Trump given his insults of Cruz's wife and father.
Trump replied saying “I didn’t start anything with the wife.” The issue began when a pro-Cruz super-PAC ran a “risque” photo of Trump’s wife, former model Melania, in an ad in Utah, he said.
“Then when I saw -- somebody tweeted a picture of Melania and a picture of Heidi, who I think by the way is a very nice woman and a very beautiful woman. I have to tell you. I think Heidi Cruz is a great person,” he said. “It’s the best thing he’s got going, and his kids, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said.
Of Cruz’s father, whom he dubbed “a lovely guy,” Trump said, “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now Ted never denied that it was his father... I had nothing to do with it,” Trump said. Referring to the tabloid magazine’s past coverage of the O.J. Simpson and John Edwards stories, he said, “This was a magazine that frankly in many respects should be very respected. They got O.J., they got Edwards.”
Of Cruz’s attempts to distance himself from the group’s ads, Trump said, “Folks, a lot of us are political people, right, we’re not babies. His people were on the PAC.” He added, “Now probably you could trace it down with e-mails but they’re pretty smart.”
Trump said Cruz's speech might have hurt his future political ambitions.
“Somebody got booed out of the place by thousands and thousands of people,” Trump said. “Honestly, he may have ruined his political career.”