Donald Trump said goodbye to Cleveland Friday, pronouncing the Republican National Convention a yuge success and launching a barrage of parting shots at GOP rival Ted Cruz, who refused to endorse Trump in a controversial speech that got the Texas senator booed off the stage.
The vindictive victory lap laid bare Trump’s simmering anger at Cruz, who brought drama to Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday when he began a speech to cheers and ended it by garnering a raucous chorus of boos after he refused to endorse the man who had bested him.
“I like Ted, he’s fine,” Trump said in a trademark, ad-libbed press conference. “I don’t need his endorsement. If he gives it to me, I will not accept it.”
Trump said if Cruz had endorsed him, it may have brightened his former rival’s future presidential prospects.
“He should have done it,” Trump said. “He would have been in better shape in four years.”
Added Trump: “He’s got intellect, but he didn’t use it.”
Speaking 12 hours after his historic acceptance speech, and with running mate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at his side, Trump praised his children, and predicted a major bounce coming out of the four-day convention. But the GOP nominee spent most of the news conference pounding Cruz, who finished second to Trump in a bruising primary campaign that began as a field of 17.
Trump dredged through a primary’s worth of animosity with Cruz, blasting him repeatedly while basking in the glow of his victory.
While Trump and Cruz initially steered clear of criticizing each other as other candidates fell by the wayside, the gloves came off once state primaries and caucuses began. A Cruz super PAC ran an ad featuring a racy picture of Trump’s former supermodel wife, Melania, in an effort to tar him in the conservative state.
Trump responded with a retweet that showed Melania side-by-side with an unflattering picture of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and the words: “No need to ‘spill the beans.’ The images are worth a thousand words.”
On Friday, Trump managed to praise Heidi while delivering a stinging backhanded blow to Cruz.
“I think Heidi Cruz is a great person,” Trump said yesterday. “I think she’s the best thing he’s got going, (that) and his kids.”
Trump was just getting started in settling his score with Cruz, who he allowed to speak in a prime time slot on Wednesday, even though Cruz declined to endorse him. Trump predicted Cruz would never mount a serious campaign for president and said that if he does, “maybe I’ll start a super PAC” to attack him.
Hopes that the two could bury the hatchet and unite the party disappeared when Cruz spoke on Wednesday, urging Republicans to “vote your conscience” but refusing to accede to chants of “Endorse Trump” that were followed by a loud chorus of boos.
During the campaign, Cruz bitterly lashed out at Trump when the National Enquirer, which had also ran an unsubstantiated story accusing him of having multiple affairs, published a picture purportedly of Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, standing near Lee Harvey Oswald. Trump mentioned the story in multiple interviews, clearly angering Cruz.
“[I’m not going to] come like a servile puppy dog and say, ‘thank you very much for maligning my wife and maligning my father,’” Cruz told Texas delegates during a sometimes contentious meeting Thursday morning.
Trump took a shot at Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another primary rival who refused to attend the convention even though it was in his home state.
“Whether you’re the governor of Ohio, whether you’re a senator from Texas, or any of the other people that I beat so easily and so badly, you have no choice,” Trump said. “You’ve got to go for Trump.”