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Oklahoma delegates disappointed in Cruz

CLEVELAND _ Oklahoma Republican delegates to the GOP national convention here said Thursday that they were disappointed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz did not endorse presidential nominee Donald J. Trump and that it was likely a political mistake for the Texan.

"I think it was uncalled for,'' said Dan Keating, of Tulsa, an early supporter of Trump. "I don't know how you manage to get a two-minute standing ovation and then get booed off the stage."

Cruz, who ran against Trump for the GOP nomination, had received a warm reception to his convention speech until it became clear that he was not going to mention Trump's name or say that he would vote for him. The two had been bitter rivals, and Trump insulted Cruz, his father and his wife during the long campaign.

Still, delegates here said Cruz should have put it aside for the cause of unity.

"I don't think he even had to name Trump,'' said Linda Huggard, a delegate from Oklahoma City. "He could have said that as a loyal Republican he would support the nominee. That is what is expected of our grassroots. That is what is expected of our leaders."

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Cruz "did a great disservice for this cause that we're all here for. I think he made a mistake. I thought it was horrible."

Rodd Moesel, a delegate from Oklahoma City, said, "If (Cruz) wasn't going to endorse, I don't think he should have accepted the speaking spot.

"I think for the forseeable future, it was political suicide."

Cruz won the Oklahoma GOP presidential primary in March and has strong supporters in the delegation.

One, Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, of Tulsa, said, "Ted Cruz delivered a powerful speech on the principles of freedom and the platform of our party. 

"Cruz was true to his word. He offered his support through encouraging voters to vote for the 'conservative' candidate that would fight to protect our constitution and principles. That candidate is obviously not Hillary Clinton; it is Donald Trump.

"Depending upon the outcome of the 2016 elections, I believe we will see Ted Cruz run for President again in either 2020 or 2024."

Delegate Steve Curry, of Edmond, said, "Ted Cruz is a brilliant man, and I like him a lot. I think Ted Cruz did what he felt in his conscience was the right thing for him. I wish he had been a little more forthright in stating that he was going to vote for Donald Trump. And I think that's why he got the reaction that he did.

"I think reflects a whole lot more negatively on Cruz than it does on Trump."

There has been widespread speculation that Trump aides encouraged the booing and chants of "Endorse Trump."

Moesel said there was none of that in or around the Oklahoma section on the convention floor.

"It didn't look organized in any way," Moesel said, adding that it started with a small number of delegates and then spread throughout the arena.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›