Vice-presidential nominee warmly received but undermined by thunderous booing that broke out when Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump

Efforts to reboot a chaotic Republican convention by introducing vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence to American voters were undermined on Wednesday by an angry clash between Donald Trump supporters and those of his former rival Ted Cruz.

Pence insisted the party was coming together as he took to the stage at the end of the night to formally accept the partys nomination. This week, with this united party, in November I know we will elect Donald Trump, he said.

This team is ready, our party is ready, he concluded. And when we elect Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States we will make America great again.

The Indiana governor struck a self-effacing tone, in stark contrast to that of his new boss. [Trump] is a man of style and charisma so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket, he joked. For those who dont know me, which I guess is most of you …, continued Pence, to laughter.

Chosen for his impeccable conservative credentials, Pence was intended to reassure party leaders anxious about the highly unusual Trump campaign style and he prompted periodic chants of We like Mike, we like Mike from a warm crowd.

Projecting a more mature and conventional style than many in the Trump team, Pence also prompted chuckles of laughter from the convention floor for the first time this week with a gentler tone than the Cleveland crowd has become used to.

But he continued the conventions spate of strong attacks on Democrats, calling Hillary Clinton the secretary of the status quo. When Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, the change will be yuge, he said, imitating Trumps distinctive pronunciation.

Cruz
Delegates react to Ted Cruz as he addressed the third day session of the Republican national convention. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Yet once more, attempts to build unity among Republicans were marred by angry scenes on the convention floor, where delegates earlier tried to drown out a Cruz speech that failed to endorse the partys nominee.

Trumps former closest rival for the nomination riled large parts of the crowd by hinting that voters should back candidates lower down the ticket even if they could not bring themselves to support the presidential nominee.

To those listening, please, dont stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, said Cruz to boos and whistles. As the final lines of his speech rolled onto the autocue next to an instruction to pause for applause, the Cleveland arena was filled instead with the sound of jeering Trump supporters and a sheepish-looking Cruz sped off stage.

Marco Rubio was also met with stony silence when he appeared above their heads on a giant video screen but did not once mention the name of his former rival and Republican nominee.

Newt Gingrich, who narrowly lost out to Pence in the race for the vice-presidential slot, attempted to put a positive spin on the ugly scenes, saying he was proud that Trump had allowed his opponents to speak.

I think you misunderstood one paragraph, he added, attempting to explain away the previous clash. Ted Cruz said you can vote your conscience for anyone who upholds the constitution. In this contest there is only one candidate who has pledged to uphold the constitution. So to paraphrase Ted Cruz, the only possible choice is to vote the Trump-Pence ticket.

On the floor, arguments and debates broke out about the senators appeal to Republican voters consciences. Texas delegates seemed to gather in one corner to argue over wording and tried to apply Talmudic levels of interpretation. Two elected officials, both of whom supported Cruz in the primary, got into a heated exchange about the speech while passing by.

State senator Jason Raspert of Arkansas thought it was time to support the nominee while state representative Justin Everett of Colorado expressed his disappointment that the Republican party was not nominating a candidate who represented its platform. He added the party will remain but candidates will come and go. If youre a Christian and youre going to vote on principles, you need to vote on principles.

Wes Brumot of Longview, Texas, a diehard Cruz supporter wearing a Cruz 16 shirt on the floor, said that while Its unfortunate that people booed at the end. Its unfortunate Mr. Trump walked down [into the hall] to try to upstate his speech I dont take personally. Brumot though said he still wasnt sure if he would vote for Trump in November.

As the convention broke for the night, Trump accused his former rival of failing to honor a pledge all the GOP candidates had made to support the eventual nominee:

Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2016

Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!

It was again left to Trump family members, employees and business associates to try to rescue an increasingly unruly convention with more direct endorsements.

Donald
Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka in the audience in the convention hall just after Ted Cruzs speech. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Eric Trump followed Cruz on stage and described his father as the epitome of the American dream whose big achievement during the primary was to turn traditional debates into must-see TV.

Wow. Wow. Wow, he started, leaving observers briefly unclear whether he was referencing the extraordinary scenes that had just preceded him.

Apart from Pence, only Laura Ingraham, a radio host, succeeded in lifting the sprit of a flat third night, with yet more attacks on Clinton that prompted cries of lock her up, lock her up from the audience. Honour your pledge to support Donald Trump, she urged Cruz.

Trump had arrived in Cleveland earlier that day with a great fanfare, landing in his Trump helicopter on a grassy field adjacent to the Cleveland Browns stadium. With a swarm of hundreds of journalists from across the world cataloguing the turn of every helicopter blade, Trump emerged from his chopper accompanied by press secretary Hope Hicks and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whom sources said has been acting as a de facto campaign manager in recent weeks.

The Republican nominee was greeted by Pence as well as four of Trumps five children. His wife Melania, who has been mired in a plagiarism scandal over her speech to the convention on Monday, was absent. Trump sought to draw a line under the controversy on Wednesday with the release of a statement admitting his wife had provided a campaign speechwriter with lines taken from Michelle Obama.

Trump than gave brief remarks while introducing Pence, saying: Last time I get accused of speaking a little bit long so this time I am going to speak a lot short. Pence then pledged that what begins in Cleveland will end in the White House.

Afterward, Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who has yet to endorse Trump, was there to watch and observe. Ive never been to one of these rallies before, said Sanford. Arriving by helicopter with Air Force One blaring in the background is so at odds with my personal style in politics which is rather low key and anything Ive ever known and observed about politics in the state that Im from which is a bit less ostentatious in form. So Im watching and learning.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/20/mike-pence-speech-rnc-ted-cruz-donald-trump

Mike Pence bid for Republican unity marred by clashes on convention floor