The Texas GOP Convention was supposed to be a way for Ted Cruz's campaign to build momentum and shore up delegates should the race to the Republican presidential nomination end in a contested convention. Instead, Cruz's appearance at the Dallas gathering served as way for the one-time presidential candidate Cruz to thank some of his most loyal supporters.
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Cruz gave no hint that he might throw his support behind Donald Trump, never mentioning the Republican frontrunner by name and telling his supporters who felt discouraged to never give up hope. Cruz suspended his presidential bid May 3.
"I don’t know what the future will hold. We may face some challenging days ahead. We may face growing challenges going ahead but I am convinced that movement, the men and women gathered here will be the remnant, will be the core of pulling this country back from the abyss," Cruz said.
Cruz added, "And for those who are discouraged let me simply say this, truth will prevail."
He hinted at his political future by referencing his one-time running mate, Carly Fiorina.
"Carly would have made a phenomenal vice president and she just might some day in the future," Cruz said.
Cruz used part of his speech to highlight conservative principles and in what some may perceive as a jab at Trump, Cruz said things like the Bill of Rights are not a "suggestion." Earlier this week, Trump described some of his stated policy positions as "suggestions."
"You want to know how to tell if someone’s a conservative? You can listen very, very carefully: If they stand in front of you and say this is what government's going to do for you, they ain't a conservative. If they instead talk about this is how we're going to keep government out of your way so that you can achieve the American dream, that means they're a conservative," Cruz said.
Cruz devoted most of his speech to his Texas volunteers and the grassroots activists who filled the crowd.
"More than anything else what I want to convey to each of you is thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the very bottom of my heart," Cruz said.
Cruz added: "It was the men and women gathered here in this convention hall that enabled us to do the impossible ... for us to prevail to the very end, to defeat 15 of those candidates. Without you we never could have done that. And so people ask are you disappointed, of course you're disappointed. But I’ll tell you, Heidi and me, more than anything else, the overwhelming sense we have is gratitude."
One of the people whose support Cruz was referencing was Jeannie Ribelin, a first-time convention goer whose admiration for Cruz led her to attend. Ribelin said she sees Trump as "rough" but will support him over Hillary Clinton, who leads the race for the Democratic nomination.
"Everybody is sort of subdued but we're all behind Trump if he gets it, we'll vote for Trump but we still love Ted the best," Ribelin said.
Ribelin was one of several supporters picking up Cruz T-shirts and Fiorina/Cruz buttons for sale at convention booths, keeping them as a relic of the past few months. One vendor said the Cruz material was outselling the Trump T-shirts.
A booth the Cruz campaign had rented before Cruz suspended his presidential bid became a place for thank-you notes to Cruz and his family. Convention goers scribbled notes to Cruz, some wrote that they hoped he would one day be a Supreme Court justice, others vowed to write his name in when they vote in November.
Earlier this week, Cruz said in a radio interview with Chris Salcedo that he had no interest in being a Supreme Court justice. Today, he told supporters that he would continue to fight for them in the Senate.
"I'll tell you where I'm going to focus my energies. Number one, every principle that we fought for in the presidential campaign, jobs and freedom and security, I intend to fight just as tenaciously for those principles in the United States Senate," Cruz said.
At the booth filled with thank-you notes to Cruz, the campaign left a thank-you note from Cruz to his supporters that ended with the line, "It's only the beginning."