Live from the GOP National Convention in Cleveland

     (CN) – A team of reporters from Courthouse News is reporting live from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Here is the very latest from the scene.
     
     11:21 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Delegates at the Republican National Convention are “disappointed” in Sen. Ted Cruz’s decision not to throw his support behind Donald Trump.
     Speaking to the convention for more than 20 minutes on Wednesday night, Cruz did not endorse the Republican party’s nominee, instead telling voters to follow their “conscience” at the ballot box in November.
     Boos followed Cruz off the stage and drowned out the end of his speech.
     Delegates in the hall after the speech said they were disappointed with the Texan’s decision not to support Trump, saying it could hurt the unity the party has insisted it has been building through the convention.
     “I was disappointed and I voted for Ted Cruz,” Michigan delegate Marian Scheridan told Courthouse News. “If they want to unify the party, everybody has to come on board. You have to be man enough.”
     Despite the cacophony of chants of “we want Trump” and boos that rained down from the upper levels of the arena, some Cruz supporters insisted the Texas senator did nothing wrong.
     “What he said was vote for constitutional candidates and go to the polls,” Minnesota delegate Don Bumgarner told Courthouse News. “He’s telling people to go vote.”
     Linda Vinsanau, an alternate delegate from Louisiana and a Cruz supporter, said she was not surprised Cruz didn’t support Trump and speculated that Trump’s social media attack of Cruz’s wife, Heidi, prevented him from ever fully supporting the candidate.
     The boos that filled Quicken Loans Arena only served to divide the party, Vinsanau said. She noted that Cruz didn’t tell anyone not to vote for Trump and said she still planned to support the billionaire now that he is the only alternative to Hillary Clinton.
     “I’m 100 percent behind Ted Cruz, I’m 1,000 percent behind Donald Trump,” Vinsanau said.
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     11:16 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – As Sen. Ted Cruz prepared to give a speech at the nominating convention of his fiercest primary opponent, even those that supported the Texan in the primary contest are hoping for a unifying speech, if not a full endorsement.
     Cruz was one of the last Republicans to drop out of the hotly contested Republican primary and earned the second most votes on Tuesday as delegates at the Republican National Convention officially gave the presidential nomination to Donald Trump.
     Prior to Cruz’s sensationally not endorsing Trump Wednesday night, many of his supporters suggested the time had come to set aside differences for the greater GOP good.
     “I am hoping that it will continue to unify the party,” Linda Olsen, a delegate from Georgia, told Courthouse News.”That is what we would love to see.”
     Delegates at a Cruz event earlier in the day reportedly booed Donald Trump’s plane as it landed in Cleveland Wednesday afternoon, which many pointed to as a sign that the significant Cruz backing present in Cleveland is not ready to let go of its favorite son.
     Natalie Schmidt, a Florida Cruz delegate who was at the event, dismissed the booing as mostly a joke and said it was followed and proceeded by laughs. While she said she was sure Cruz would deliver a good speech Wednesday night, she pushed back on the idea that the senator needs to endorse the party’s presidential nominee.
     “I can’t really imagine that he would do that,” said Schmidt, who sported a Ted Cruz shirt and earnings on the arena floor. “I don’t think that that’s necessary regardless of what’s come out of the convention. He is a fellow Republican, he does so much for our country in DC, he’s protected our Second Amendment rights and stood up to a lot of things again, to protect our Constitution. So I feel that’s irrelevant and unnecessary, he’s a warrior for the cause the Republican party is supposed to believe in.”
     Other delegates suggested that regardless of whether Cruz endorses Trump or not he is still likely to be a part of the Republican party going forward as a young voice that appeals to the party’s more conservative members.
     Cruz should get up on the massive silver and black stage at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland and deliver a message of unity, delegates said.
     “What I’m hoping to hear from Ted Cruz is about how the primary was a battle of ideas, how we’re all now coming together and how we need to coalesce as a party and unify behind Donald Trump and that there’s definitely a strong role for Ted Cruz in the future of the Republican party,” Massachusetts delegate Kevin Jourdain told Courthouse News.
     “His best days are still ahead of him,” Jourdain continued. – Tim Ryan
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     10:32 p.m.
     
     Heidi Cruz had to be escorted out of the Republican National Convention Wednesday night after the crowd of delegates became enraged by the non-endorsement of GOP nominee by her husband. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Reports from the convention floor say that at least one Trump supporter shouted “Goldman Sachs” into Heidi Cruz’s face as she was escorted out by security and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
     Cruz worked for Goldman Sachs from 2005 until Ted Cruz announced his intention to run for president in March 2015.
     There are also report that several well-heeled donors berated Cruz himself as he left the hall, and that one called him a disgrace to his face.
     The Cruz campaign released a statement saying “the end of the speech was tough” but said “that’s what happens when one stands up for their principles.” – Dan McCue
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     10:20 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Donald Trump has reportedly made good on his promise to forgive more than $47 million in loans he made to his campaign during the primary season.
     New federal campaign finance reports show the GOP presidential nominee no longer is carrying a balance on his loans.
     That’s as he raised $21.9 million in contributions, leaving Trump with $20.2 million in the bank.
     Trump’s haul came after a disappointing May, when his campaign finished with $1.3 million.
     The latest figures show the Republican Party had $21.1 million cash on hand by July 1.
     Fundraising figures for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign aren’t yet available. They have to be filed by midnight Wednesday. – Dan McCue
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     10:16 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Speaking before the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz encouraged voters to “vote [their] conscience” in November drawing boos from delegates hopeful for an endorsement of Donald Trump.
     Cruz spoke about freedom in a lengthy speech but did not finally throw his support behind Trump.
     “If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience and vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the constitution,” Cruz said.
     Initially Cruz implored people not to stay at home during the November election, causing a swell from the crowd apparently anticipating an endorsement would follow.
     But when the crowd realized he was not supporting Trump the cheers quickly turned to boos, which eventually became so loud that Cruz could not speak over them.
     Supporters shouted “we want Trump” at Cruz, who went off of the script projected onto a large television in the back of the arena at the end of his speech. Boos followed him as he walked off the stage.
     During the more than 20 minute speech the Texas firebrand sounded softer on many issues than he did in the primary, praising the family of Alton Sterling, an unarmed black man gunned down by police in Baton Rouge, and mentioning briefly that the Bill of Rights gives gay people the right to live “by [their] conscience.”
     Before Cruz withheld his endorsement the crowd seemed to be enjoying his speech. He talked at length about freedom, supported building Trump’s border wall, as well as school choice and low taxes.
     “We’re fighting not for one particular candidate or one campaign but because each of us wants to be able to tell our kids and grandkids… that we did our best for their future,” Cruz said, prompting the crowd to break into chants of “USA.”
     Cruz’s speech came immediately after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another presidential hopeful vanquished by Donald Trump, addressed the convention over video and called for party unity. – Tim Ryan.
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     9:30 p.m.
     
     (CN) – Ted Cruz will acknowledge that he finished second in the delegate count to Donald Trump on Wednesday night, but the Texas senator won’t be endorsing the Republican presidential nominee.
     Cruz, who is now on the stage at the Republican National Convention will say in remarks released just before he began speaking that Americans should “vote your conscience.” He never says they should vote for Trump.Trump and Cruz engaged in bitter recriminations during the Republican primaries. Trump repeatedly referred to Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.” Cruz said Trump was a “pathological liar.”
     Cruz is saying almost nothing about Trump in his speech. But he’s heaping criticism on Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.
     “Theirs is the party that thinks ISIS is a “JV team,” that responds to the death of Americans at Benghazi by asking, “What difference does it make?” That thinks it’s possible to make a deal with Iran, which celebrates as holidays “Death to America Day” and “Death to Israel Day,” he said. “My friends, this is madness.”
     “President Obama is a man who does everything backwards — he wants to close Guantanamo Bay and open up our borders, he exports jobs and imports terrorists,” the senator continued. “Enough is enough.”
     Rather than endorse Trump, Cruz said, “to those listening, please, don’t stay home in November.
     “Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution,” he said.
     When the delegates realized the senator would in fact not endorse the party’s nominee, many booed.
     Cruz responded by saying, “I appreciate the enthusiasm of the New York delegation.”
     Trump, of course, is a native New Yorker. – Dan McCue.
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     9:10 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Speakers going before Sen. Ted Cruz at the Republican National Convention are putting pressure on the Texan to throw his support behind Donald Trump.
     Cruz, who is scheduled to speak later tonight, has not yet endorsed Trump and some of his supporters at the convention have been vocal in their criticism of Trump.
     But as Cruz’s speech nears, speakers on Wednesday obliquely demanded he fall in line.
     Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham demanded former candidates honor their pledge to support the eventual nominee, which officially became Donald Trump Tuesday evening.
     “Even all you boys with wounded feelings and bruised egos… you must honor your pledge to support Donald Trump now,” she said. “Tonight. Tonight.”
     Later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker scoffed at the idea of a Republican voting for another candidate, and pointedly said a protest vote for a third-party candidate is essentially a vote for Democrat Clinton. – Tim Ryan.
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     7:57 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – The first two nights of the Republican National Convention followed roughly the same theme.
     They may have had different titles — each a play on Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan — but even as the purported topic has gone from national security to jobs and to foreign policy Wednesday night, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been at the center of it all.
     Attacks on Clinton have been more common at the Republican National Convention than speeches on policy or the direction of the party.
     For example, while the alleged theme Tuesday night was “Make America Work Again,” most of the nights speakers focused instead on Clinton and the scandals that have make “lock her up” a common refrain among convention-goers.
     New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stirred up the crowd Tuesday night by laying out the hypothetical case against Clinton, from her handling of Benghazi to her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
     After shortly recapping each scandal Christie would ask the audience whether she was innocent or guilty, to which the assembly each time shouted “guilty.”
     Page said he preferred the speech Donald Trump Jr. gave Tuesday, which touched more on education and other policy points while also giving a broader picture of the candidate as a man.
     While the Clinton bashing has yet to fail to bring the delegates to their feat, some on the floor would like to hear more concrete details at their party gathering.
     “It would be nice to have more policy talk,” American Samoa delegate Ann Longnecker “We all know Clinton is a very bad, evil woman, there’s no point in getting up there and beating a dead horse. So personally, I would like to hear some more policy.”
     West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito did touch on economic policy, specifically the regulation of the coal industry under President Barack Obama she said has killed jobs in her home state.
     Virginia delegate Garrison Coward predicted Vice Presidential pick Mike Pence would bring some of the needed policy talk to the convention.
     Pence is scheduled to speak to delegates for the first time at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
     More speeches like those would be welcome to some of the delegates on the floor of the convention, even if attacks on Clinton are crowd-pleasers.
     “I would like to see more substance to the general idea that [Trump’s policy] is going to meet up with reality,” Florida delegate Daniel Wright told Courthouse News. “In order to go forward it’s got to explain what form it’s going to take. If we just trust ‘well, I like the big ideas but how it’s going to work I don’t know,’ then we’re not voting on concrete things.”
     But to others the Clinton assaults serve the purpose of making a policy statement while also helping to unite a party still recovering from a bitter primary season.
     “I know that’s been the rhetoric on the news is that they’re not talking enough about policies, but if we’re talking about not an administration with Hillary Clinton that is also a way to say we are making a change to different policies,” Georgia delegate Linda Olson told Courthouse News. – Tim Ryan.
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     7:32 p.m.
     
     (CN) – While the drama continues to unfold in Cleveland, Sen. Bernie Sanders has said he plans to meet with 1,900 of his delegates right before the start of the Democratic National Convention on Monday — one of a series of meetings in advance of the convention aimed at providing direction to his undecided supporters after he endorsed Hillary Clinton.
     In an email to supporters on Wednesday, the Sanders campaign promises his delegates a “very special meeting with Bernie himself.”
     It will follow a series of morning briefings hosted by the campaign on some of Sanders’ core causes — single-payer health care, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and criminal justice. One session with senior Sanders staff will offer instruction to delegates “on how to keep the political revolution going strong.”
     “We can’t wait to see you in Philly,” according to the email, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
     The planned closed-door meeting comes as many of his delegates are expressing disappointment and some uncertainty as they prepare to descend on Philadelphia for a weeklong convention in which Clinton will be formally nominated as the party’s standard-bearer. Sanders endorsed Clinton last week, but he also did not release his delegates and made it clear he planned to continue promoting his liberal agenda.
     The meeting will precede the 3 p.m. start of the convention. That day, delegates are expected to vote to finalize the party platform and rules. First lady Michelle Obama and Sanders were scheduled to address theconvention that evening. – Dan McCue.
     
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     6:42 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – As Sen. Ted Cruz prepares to give a speech at the nominating convention of his fiercest primary opponent, even some who supported the Texan in the primary contest are hoping for a unifying speech, if not a full endorsement.
     Cruz was one of the last Republicans to drop out of the hotly contested Republican primary and earned the second most votes on Tuesday as delegates at the Republican National Convention officially gave the presidential nomination to Donald Trump.
     The Texas senator has not fully endorsed Trump since dropping out and will take the stage later tonight to address delegates as the convention enters its third full day. It is unclear whether Cruz will throw his support behind Trump in his Wednesday night speech, but some of the delegates he will stand before hope to see him at least try to heal a damaged party.
     “I am hoping that it will continue to unify the party,” Linda Olson, a delegate from Georgia, told Courthouse News. “That is what we would love to see.”
     Delegates at a Cruz event earlier in the day reportedly booed Donald Trump’s plane as it landed Wednesday afternoon, which many pointed to as a sign that the significant Cruz backing present in Cleveland is not ready to let go of its favorite son.
     Natalie Schmidt, a Florida Cruz delegate who was at the event, dismissed the booing as mostly a joke and said it was followed and preceded by laughs. While she said she was sure Cruz would deliver a good speech Wednesday night, she pushed back on the idea that the senator needs to endorse the party’s presidential nominee.
     “I can’t really imagine that he would do that,” said Schmidt, who sported a Ted Cruz shirt and earrings on the arena floor. “I don’t think that that’s necessary regardless of what’s come out of the convention. He is a fellow Republican, he does so much for our country in D.C. He’s protected our Second Amendment rights and stood up to a lot of things, again, to protect our Constitution. So I feel that’s irrelevant and unnecessary, he’s a warrior for the cause the Republican Party is supposed to believe in.”
     Other delegates suggested that regardless of whether Cruz endorses Trump, he is still likely to be a part of the Republican Party going forward as a young voice that appeals to the party’s more conservative members.
     Cruz should get up on the massive silver and black stage at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland and deliver a message of unity, delegates said.
     “What I’m hoping to hear from Ted Cruz is about how the primary was a battle of ideas, how we’re all now coming together and how we need to coalesce as a party and unify behind Donald Trump and that there’s definitely a strong role for Ted Cruz in the future of the Republican Party,” Massachusetts delegate Kevin Jourdain told Courthouse News.
     “His best days are still ahead of him,” Jourdain continued. – Tim Ryan
     ___
     
     5:17 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – The Secret Service confirmed Wednesday that it is investigating a prominent Donald Trump supporter who said Hillary Clinton should be “shot for treason.”
     Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback says the agency is aware of comments made by New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro. Hoback says the Secret Service “will conduct the appropriate investigation.”
     Baldasaro said Clinton — a former secretary of state who’s the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — should be “put in the firing line and shot for treason” over the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
     Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells NH1 News that Baldasaro doesn’t speak for the campaign. – Dan McCue.
     
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     5 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Chaotic protests around the arena housing the Republican National Convention are making it difficult for some delegates to get inside.
     Police officers told delegates Wednesday to line up on a yellow line in the street and ordered all others to leave the area.
     Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams was one of several officers checking delegates’ credentials before letting them through a barrier created by bicycle officers.
     The problems for delegates came several minutes after multiple people with their hands cuffed behind them were detained by police in the most chaotic protest to hit the convention. – Dan McCue.
     ___
     
     4:30 p.m.
     
     CLEVELAND (CN) – Multiple people with their hands cuffed behind them have been detained by police in the most chaotic protest to hit the Republican National Convention.
     As a protest group tried to burn an American flag near Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, police used pepper spray on people in the nearby crowd.
     Police yelled to people to move back as the flag burning group locked arms.
     Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams was one of several officers in the middle of the crowd trying to keep people controlled.
     Police wearing riot helmets arrived on the scene and police horses were being used to create a path to a van for people being detained. – Dan McCue.

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