Inside the Texas-Sized Split Over Ted Cruz’s Non-Endorsement of Donald Trump

PHOTO: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 20, 2016.PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
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Emotions ran high following Ted Cruz’s speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night. The Texas senator defiantly refused to endorse Donald Trump for president, drawing jeers and shouts from the audience, especially the New York delegation.

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But Cruz faced perhaps even harsher criticism from his own delegation the morning after his speech Wednesday.

On this week’s episode of “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl was there for all the action at the Texas delegation’s breakfast event Thursday. Cruz was heckled by delegates from his home state, some of whom disagreed with his decision to reject the Republican presidential nominee.

“He will never be president. All he’s doing is helping Hillary Clinton,” said one member. Another shouted, “He’s a liar!”, evoking Trump’s popular campaign epithet, “Lyin’ Ted.”

Meanwhile, one woman at the Texas delegation breakfast spoke on behalf of Cruz. “He was asked to come. He admitted it was personal. It was personal to me because of what Donald Trump did to Ted’s family and Ted’s father,” she said.

During the primary, Trump tweeted an unflattering photograph of Cruz's wife, Heidi and also suggested a link between Cruz's father and Lee Harvey Oswald.

“People talked about my family and I didn’t cry about it. I grew up,” another member shot back.

“He can forgive, but he does not have to endorse,” the woman replied. “He did the right thing. He congratulated the nominee. He told the people to vote their conscience. I am a Christian first before I am a Republican,” she added.

Another man said that he thinks that what Cruz did "is wrong."

"I think he’s making a political mistake,” another man chimed in. “Right now, there is a binary choice between two parties. One that supports life and one that doesn’t.”

Yet, as Karl noted, that binary choice “doesn’t exactly seem like a rallying cry” needed to unite the party. But exchanges like these illustrate the “entirely real, raw emotion” at the convention this year.

“Conservatism has been replaced by Trumpism. You can’t look for ideology in this, it’s personality,” ABC News Political Director Rick Klein added.

John Santucci, an ABC News reporter who has been following the Trump campaign for more than a year, also weighed in on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast with Karl and Klein.

“It’s never boring,” he laughed. “That’s the whole thing covering the Trump campaign. There is not one dull moment.”

Santucci spoke about the “electric energy” of Trump’s rallies on the campaign trail, where supporters were decked out “head-to-toe” in Trump attire.

Yet, the energy at the GOP convention “here [in Cleveland] is so much more subdued,” Santucci noted, with the exception of Cruz being booed by the New York delegation Wednesday night.

That was when Santucci said he finally saw “fire” in the crowd.

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