On Wednesday, Texas senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz took the stage at the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio. Cruz was one of the most anticipated speakers of the night because of his vehement opposition to Trump's candidacy throughout the primary season. It perhaps shouldn't be a surprise, then, that Cruz's RNC speech was basically a presidential campaign speech for 2020 rather than a call for party unity.
"We deserve leaders who stand for principle," Cruz said. "Unite us all behind shared values. Cast aside anger for love. That is the standard we should expect, from everybody." Although he technically called for party unity, he didn't paint Trump as the candidate who could provide it.
Leading up to Cruz's speech, the big question circulating online and in the news media was whether or not the former candidate would endorse Trump. That's standard practice for speakers at a party convention, but it would be a big step for Cruz, who put up one of the most critical and longest fights against Trump in the Republican primary race. In his convention speech, Cruz congratulated the Donald on becoming the GOP's nominee, but he did not outright endorse Trump.
Instead of endorsing Trump, Cruz told viewers to vote with their conscience. In Cruz's ultra-conservative, often-religious speak, that line came across as more of a warning than an endorsement. He even directly asked voters to strongly consider the choice they will make in November:
What if this, right now, is our last time? Our last moment to do something for our families and our country? Did we live up to our values? Did we do all that we could?
Cruz might not be a choice for voters this November, but he made his case to be on the ticket next time around. He laid out his platform, piece by piece, mentioning issues that Trump hasn't been known for, including school choice and states' rights.
And freedom means recognizing that our Constitution allows states to choose policies that reflect local values. Colorado may decide something different than Texas. New York different than Iowa. Diversity. That's the way it's supposed to be. If not, what's the point of having states to begin with?
When it was all said and done, Cruz asked people to vote — but he didn't ask them to make America great again. As the pro-Trump crowd began to boo Cruz, he continued to speak about his family and his vision for America. He talked about November, but he didn't specify whether he meant November 2016 or November 2020.