Hutchison calls Cruz a 'traitor' to GOP after he doesn't endorse Trump | KUOW News and Information

Hutchison calls Cruz a 'traitor' to GOP after he doesn't endorse Trump

Jul 21, 2016

Sen. Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican convention Wednesday night — and got booed.

It wasn't something he said. It was what he didn’t say: He refused to endorse Donald Trump.

And that didn’t sit well with Washington state GOP chair Susan Hutchison.

Cruz told delegates to “vote your conscience up and down the ticket, who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

Hutchison said she confronted him outside an elevator after his speech.

“I told him that what he did was inexcusable and he was a traitor to the party,” Hutchison said Thursday morning at the state delegation’s breakfast.

She denied that security restrained her, as some news reports suggested. And she told reporters that Cruz's wife, Heidi, then came up to her. Here's what she says happened:

It was a major new chapter in the story that Washington delegates have been talking about all week.

Most of them supported Cruz in the caucuses, though their votes at the convention had to go to Trump as the winner of the state primary. And many of them have been saying all week that they won’t vote for Trump come November.

Wednesday night Cruz put his stamp of approval on their rebellion.

Washington state delegate Braedon Wilkerson says Donald Trump fails the Constitutional test.
Credit KUOW Photo/David Hyde

Delegate Braedon Wilkerson of Olympia has been outspoken about his opposition to Trump. He called Cruz’s speech “badass.”

Delegate Selena Coppa said the speech inspired her. "I think it took a lot of strength to stand before a crowd, knowing that the RNC and Trump whips would whip up some booing," she said.

So the Cruz speech makes Hutchison’s job much more difficult. She’s supposed to unite all the different voices and factions in the state.

But when a big chunk of the party’s conservative base rejects the nominee at the convention, that’s a pretty big deal.

The Cruz controversy also took the spotlight away from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the vice presidential nominee. Wednesday was supposed to be his big night when he accepted the nomination.

Hutchison said Trump’s choice of Pence was supposed to be a way to get social conservatives at the convention excited, a sign that the party was uniting.

But as it turned out, not so much.

Now it's up to Trump to try and salvage the convention when he accepts the presidential nomination Thursday night.

Washington state delegates take a picture with Sen. Ted Cruz, who previously dropped out of the presidential race.
Credit KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

Let's take a breather and buy stuff

But it's not all high drama and political intrigue at the convention. On the last day, attention turns to collection souvenirs.

“Hillary for Prison in 2016” seems to be the most popular slogan this year. You see it everywhere – on buttons, T-shirts, hats and stickers. 

There’s the "Punks for Donald Trump" T-shirt. It's got a picture of Donald Trump’s head on Johnny Cash’s body – with Cash giving the middle finger.

The Washington state delegates got commemorative poker chips for the Republican National Convention.
Credit KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

And so many buttons: One has a picture of Donald Trump, and right above that there’s a pig with a baby’s head on it. The pig has been branded with GOP on its side, and the slogan is: “Donald Trump in 2016 will make us rich and fat as pigs.”

Then there’s the commemorative poker chips that Washington state delegates got – handmade by one of their own. They’re green with the Washington state flag.

And right in the middle: the Ted Cruz patriotic flame logo.

KUOW will also be at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to bring you stories from Washington state delegates. What's your Convention Curiosity?  Email us at newsroom@kuow.org.