-- CLEVELAND –- The ultimate showman lost control of the show.
The rival who lasted longest against Trump used his moment not to endorse but to linger. Ted Cruz attempted to fire shots for the 2020 race, but they echoed sooner than he might have calculated.
“If you love our country, and love your children as much as I know that you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience,” Cruz said. “Vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”
That’s when things started to spiral.
“We want Trump!” shouted the New York delegation, home of New York values, of course. “Pledge!” shouted some. “Endorse!” shouted others.
“People from my own delegation were physically approaching her while yelling at her,” former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli told ABC News.
Things came back on track during Mike Pence’s speech. Pence used the largest audience he’s ever had to talk about his own values, and also to turn some of Trump’s perceived vices into virtues.
“You have nominated a man for president who never quits, who never backs down. A fighter, a winner,” Pence said. “With this united party, he’s got backup.”
He continued: “I’ll grant you, he can be a little rough with politicians on a stage, and I’ll bet we see that again.”
That was a reference to the general election, of course. As in previous nights, the convention came together to attack Clinton; chants of “lock her up” emerged with apparent spontaneity.
But another distraction had already hit the Trump convention. The man once called “Lyin’ Ted” got a measure of revenge. The forces Trump has flirted with throughout his campaign threatened to overwhelm his convention altogether.