TN Republicans on Cruz non-endorsement (‘excellent’ to ‘unfortunate’)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee delegates to the Republican National Convention have mixed reactions to a Wednesday speech by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in which he stopped short of endorsing Donald Trump.

Delegation Chairwoman state Sen. Mae Beavers says she thinks Cruz broke a promise to support the party’s nominee. But she says it “says a lot” for the Trump campaign that they let Cruz speak anyway.

But delegate Victor Ashe, a former ambassador to Poland, says he was “very surprised” the Trump campaign did not make an endorsement of the nominee a condition of allowing Cruz to speak.

Meanwhile, delegate Charlie Cato, a Nashville attorney and Cruz supporter, says Cruz’s speech was excellent, and he approves of Cruz’s call to delegates to vote their conscience in November.

Excerpt from Victor Ashe’s “Delegate Diary” on the same subject:

The Atlantic magazine has been sponsoring breakfasts and some lunches during convention week at the Blue Pointe Grill in Cleveland, with in-depth analysis of various topics.

On Thursday morning the conversation generally ranged from a tough and uphill climb for Trump to reach the White House to the future of the GOP. Most felt U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who came up short in his nomination run, used his time Wednesday night not endorsing trump “for his benefit.”

Some felt if Trump wins without him, Cruz will be finished in politics, while others felt if Trump fails in November then Cruz has positioned himself well for 2020.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has of this writing not endorsed Trump either. He urged Trump to give a positive speech Thursday night but never stated if Trump meets the threshold for support. Trump delegates at the convention are very disappointed with Haslam.

Susan Richardson Williams, longtime GOP activist and close friend of Haslam, keeps saying the (g)overnor will back Trump yet.

Other comments on the panel:

“Lots of folks want to vote for Trump but want reassurance that it is a responsible vote.”

“Both Trump and Clinton have bad favorability numbers.”

“How does Trump get white women to vote for him at the Romney level in 2012?”

“Trump has been handing Hillary the biggest political gifts of her life with his behavior.”

“Trump needs to help (Libertarian candidate Gary) Johnson get off the bench to take votes from Hillary.”

“There is enough anger you can see a record turnout in November and a closet vote for Trump.”

“30 percent of the voters are saying they do not like either one of the two candidates.”

From The Tennessean:
The Texas senator’s comments were “most unfortunate,” said U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn Thursday during a panel session on women in politics hosted by The Atlantic and streamed on CSPAN. Blackburn, who will address the entire convention Thursday evening, channeled her inner-country music fan to blast Cruz and those in the GOP not ready to back Trump.

“I thought the situation last night with Sen. Cruz; to ask to come, to get the invitation to come, and then not to endorse, I thought that was most unfortunate, in that it did not serve him well. I think as he lets time and space play its course, he will come back at that at some point in time and say ‘why did I choose to do that?'” Blackburn said.

“Republican women will take a lead in reuniting our party, and encouraging these guys, as I’ve said several times this week, same thing I would tell my kids when they were growing up: Get over yourself. Or as Taylor Swift would say, ‘shake it off!'”