If anyone seriously believed Donald Trump could unite the Republican Party after the most divisive primary season in living memory, that hope ended last night with Ted Cruz’s deliberate failure to endorse the GOP candidate.
Trump supporter and noted conservative commentator Roger Stone called Cruz a ‘dumb son of a bitch’ and ‘a despicable human being’. Stone was not alone in his vulgar attacks on Cruz. Republican politicians and ordinary Trump supporters are still calling Cruz a ‘rat’, ‘evil’, a ‘backstabber’ and predicting the end of his career.
Others were keen to defend Cruz, especially his primary voters and those who think Trump is not a genuine conservative, as Cruz believes. There is a small section of GOP supporters who still think Trump is a plant from the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The deeply divided GOP hoped that the Cleveland convention could paper over the cracks and humanize Trump. This effort has now failed completely. Conservatives on Twitter, the social medium of choice for self-styled ‘true conservatives’ erupted last night into wild accusations, ugly language and talk of treachery.
Cruz’s RNC speech is already historic. His advisers reportedly urged him to endorse Trump at the last minute but Cruz refused. That is hardly surprising from a man who once read Green Eggs And Ham during a senate filibuster. Much of his speech was booed and drowned out by Trump supporters but the Texas senator was unmoved.
The divisions of the primary campaign have returned with greater ferocity. Trump will deliver his first speech as the official candidate tonight presiding over a party facing a serious split.