BALLWIN, Mo. — Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) said he will support Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee for president, despite stating that the businessman’s campaign “affirmatively encourages violence” and “disrespects voters.”
“My answer is the same. I committed at the outset. I will support the Republican nominee, whoever it is,” Cruz said.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), another GOP presidential contender, said he was not sure if he could back Trump as the nominee if the front-runner’s rhetoric remained the same. And Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another Republican contender, said Trump had created a “toxic environment,” but hedged on whether he would support Trump as the nominee.
When pressed how he could support a campaign that encourages “nasty discord,” the Texas Republican didn’t answer, but instead he made a broader appeal for civility.
“I am encouraging every candidate and every campaign to appeal to our better angels. It is a choice that every candidate makes,” Cruz said. “I understand people are angry. Listen, I’m angry. We’re angry at politicians who’ve lied to us. Who don’t tell us the truth.”
In the wake of a Friday night rally in Chicago that was canceled amid clashes between Trump supporters and protesters, Cruz said the Republican candidate encourages violence. He said the situation was “sad” and placed blame on the protesters and Trump.
“I think it is also true that any campaign, responsibility begins and ends at the top. And it is my hope that all of us can appeal to civility. All of us can carry a message of unity that brings people together rather than seeking to divide, rather than seeking to inflame hatred, we should be bringing people together,” he said. “Far more unifies us than tears us apart.”
Cruz excoriated protesters, stating that demonstrators from the Bernie Sanders campaign and Black Lives Matter movement incite violence. Trump made similar accusations Saturday.
“It’s sad, number one, that you have protesters that resort to violence, that resort to threats of violence that resort to yelling and screaming and disruption to silence speech that they don’t like,” he said.
“And we’ve seen whether it is the Bernie Sanders campaign or the Black Lives Matter movement or others. We’ve seen some protesters who take speech into intimidation, into violence, into trying to silence anyone who might disagree with them. That is wrong,” Cruz said.