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RNC Day 3: A spit in Trump’s eye from ‘Lyin’ Ted’ Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaks at

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. Credit: AP / Evan Vucci

A gambling Cruz

Donald Trump is the guy who made and lost billions on casinos, but on Wednesday night it was Ted Cruz laying down the big bet: stand apart from the Republican nominee of 2016 and hope the wrath of Trump’s fans now won’t matter when he tries to run in 2020.

For a while, Cruz had the crowd in his hand. He congratulated Trump for winning the nomination, spoke movingly of the killing of the five Dallas police officers, the fight against terrorism, even building “the wall” on the Mexican border.

But when Cruz urged his audience to “vote your conscience,” the pro-Trump delegates realized there would be no endorsement and rained boos on the Texan, shouting “Say his name” and “We want Trump.” (Video here.)

When Cruz concluded, the anger was so raw that his wife, Heidi, had to be escorted from the floor, trailed by delegates screaming at her. Read Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa and Emily Ngo.

Imperfect timing

Trump entered the hall as Cruz was winding up, just in time for on-camera close-ups of his stone-faced reaction.

Campaign manager Paul Manafort was on CNN earlier in the day, predicting Cruz would leave “no doubt” he wanted Trump to be president. Instead, Cruz blew up the GOP’s unity show, and stole the conversation from the big-stage debut of Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence.

By the way, Pence endorsed Cruz in the Indiana primary that became the swan song for the Texas senator’s campaign.

Later, on Twitter ...

Trump said: “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!

Raging Pete

New York’s delegation was front and center for Cruz’s speech. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has been clear for a long time that he hates Cruz, and Wednesday night further sealed that deal.

“He’s a liar, he’s a fraud and he should never have even been considered for president by the Republican Party,” King said. See Ngo’s video, with reactions from King and other New York Republicans.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also gave Cruz the thumbs-down: “It was an awful, selfish speech.”

What did Trump ever do to Cruz?

Among other things, to recap, he nicknamed him “Lyin’ Ted,” tweeted unflattering photos and threats of personal attacks on Cruz’s wife, suggested that Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A sense of Pence

Pence did the job he was given: project competence, thoughtfulness and sanity as a reassurance to voters lacking confidence about Trump’s presidential qualities.

In a nod to keeping it real, Pence said, “I’ll grant you he can be a little rough with politicians on the stage and I’ll bet we see that again.” More importantly, he said, Trump “will lead from strength.”

He promised to help Trump bring “common sense” leadership to Washington and keep Democrat Hillary Clinton from extending what he called a status quo of broken promises and failed policies.

Newsday’s Michael Gormley covered Pence’s speech.

The take-away: Don’t go changing

Trump’s acceptance speech comes Thursday night, and his gut may be right about one thing: Having come this far, he’s gotta keep being Trump, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Janison suggests five things Trump should do, because nothing would turn his fan base low-energy quicker than going from wild to mild.

A CopyPasteGate confession

An in-house writer for the Trump Organization said Wednesday she was responsible for inserting passages from a 2008 Michelle Obama address into the speech Melania Trump delivered at the convention Monday night.

Meredith McIver said she offered to resign, but Donald Trump wouldn’t let her, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo. (Here’s McIver’s full statement.)

The admission came after a day in which aides to Trump and the Republican National Committee denied and ridiculed the plagiarism allegations.

Trump sees a bright side

On Twitter, Trump spun his wife’s speech fiasco as a success: “Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!”

If that’s so, Michelle Obama must be thrilled. The first lady’s speechmaking — much admired by Melania, according to McIver’s statement — will be on display on Monday’s opening night of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, on Clinton’s behalf.

Lock and roll

The chant “Lock her up” — meaning Clinton —has become the dominant background noise for this convention. And speakers kept playing to it Wednesday.

“ ‘Lock her up,’ I love that,” said Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Clinton was such a part of the establishment that “if she “were any more on the inside, she’d be in prison.”

Probing call to shoot Clinton

A Trump adviser on veterans’ issues told The Daily Beast and a Boston radio station that Clinton “should be shot” for “treason.” Her crimes, according to New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, are Benghazi and the email case.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told New Hampshire’s NH1 News, “We’re incredibly grateful for his support, but we don’t agree with his comments.” The Secret Service has opened an investigation.

A Clinton spokeswoman blamed Trump’s “constant escalation of outrageous rhetoric” for “mainstreaming the kind of hatred that has long been relegated to the fringes.”

What to see Thursday

Trump delivers his acceptance speech. His daughter Ivanka will also be among the speakers. A list of other speakers is here.

What else is happening

  • Determined to avoid another embarrassment like the Melania speech episode, Trump’s campaign has run his prepared speech for Thursday night through plagiarism-detection software, The New York Times says.
  • Trump outlined his foreign policy plans in a New York Times interview, saying the United States has to “fix our own mess” before trying to alter the behavior of other nations. Trump said he wouldn’t automatically honor commitments to defend a NATO ally if attacked — a statement Clinton’s campaign said would make Ronald Reagan “ashamed.”
  • Marco Rubio sent in a video pledging support for Trump.
  • Some demonstrators burned an American flag and others formed a symbolic human wall to counter Trump’s plan to build one along the Mexican border in the third day of protests, Newsday’s Darran Simon reports.
  • Donald Trump Jr. accused former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of spreading false information and trying to “sabotage the guy” who eventually took over his role running the campaign, Paul Manafort.
  • A few Republicans say the Hillary-hating at the convention has gone overboard. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Trump critic, tweeted that Republicans “can make the case that she shouldn’t be elected without jumping the shark.”
  • Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal,” told MSNBC that the Trump campaign sent him a cease and desist letter for criticizing the candidate. Trump also wants Schwartz to pay back his royalties.
  • Back in April, Trump vowed to put some “showbiz” into the convention, but there hasn’t been much, other than a handful of B-list celebrities, The Washington Post says. The TV ratings are so-so.

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