CLEVELAND - During a post-convention press conference Friday, the GOP nominee Donald Trump returned to off-the-cuff comments against Ted Cruz, who refrained from endorsing Trump during Cruz's convention speech Wednesday night.
Trump tells reporters he doesn't want Cruz's endorsement now, and that Cruz may be politically done (CBS News provided the transcript):
Honestly, he may have ruined his political career. I feel so badly. I feel so badly. And you know he’ll come and endorse over the next little awhile. He’ll come and endorse, it’s because he has no choice. But I don’t want his endorsement. What difference does it make. I don’t want his endorsement. I don’t want his endorsement. Ted, stay home, relax, enjoy yourself. Just a couple of things.’
Trump then says that he was not surprised or taken off guard with Cruz's speech:
I knew his speech. They gave me his speech. I saw exactly what his speech was, because when you go up to speak, you have to give your speech. We don’t want surprises. So they gave it. They came to me. They said, ‘It’s a boring speech, Mr. Trump. Nothing good, nothing bad. He congratulates you in the victory and here’s the speech.’ Well, he got up and the first two sentences he added a sentence. In other words, he got up and he added a sentence, which could’ve been viewed as a nasty thing in terms of what he said because he was implying something which is wrong but that’s okay.
Trump then says that Cruz changed a sentence, and that change broke a pledge - and started the uproar:
So he took his speech and you’re bound by the speech just like you’re bound by the pledge. You’re bound by the pledge. So Ted Cruz took his speech that was done, was on the teleprompter, said hello then made a statement that wasn’t on the speech and then went back to his speech. See to me, that’s dishonorable, to me, not signing a pledge is dishonorable. It’s dishonorable. Not a nice thing to do.
Again, Trump tells reporters he really does NOT want Cruz's endorsement now:
I like Ted, he’s fine. Again, I don’t want his endorsement. If he gives it, I will not accept it, just so you understand. If he gives it, I will not accept it, just so you understand. If he gives it I will – I will not accept. It wont’ matter. Honestly, he should’ve done it because nobody cares and he would’ve been in better shape for four years from now if he’s gonna be – I don’t think, I don’t see him winning anyway, frankly. But if he – if he did I – it’s fine. Although, maybe I’ll set up a Super PAC if he decides to run. Are you allowed to set up a Super PAC, Mike, if you are the president to fight somebody?
Then Trump says he did "start" the back and forth insulting Cruz's wife -
And that it wasn't his fault:
I didn’t start anything with the wife. A PAC which he’s very friendly with released – released a cover story on my wife who was a tremendously successful and elegant model and she was on the cover of GQ magazine. I think it was GQ, right? GQ Magazine is not exactly Penthouse, but she was on the cover of GQ Magazine. An artsy picture but you know that’s why she was a model…Then, when I saw somebody tweeted a picture of Melania and a picture of Heidi who I think I am by the way is a very nice woman and a very beautiful woman, I have to tell you, I think Heidi Cruz is a great person. I think it’s the best thing he’s got going, and his kids, if you want to know the truth. In a certain way, although he’s got good intellect but he doesn’t know how to use it and he was a good debater but he didn’t do well in the debates against me.
And then he revived the JFK assassination conspiracy link about Cruz's father:
Number two, his father. I don’t know his father. I met him once. I think he’s a lovely guy. I think he’s a lovely guy. All I did was point out the fact that on the cover of the Naitonal Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead, he said Donald Trump – I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected. They got OJ, they got Edwards, they got this. I mean if that was the New York Times they wouldn’t gotten Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting. I’ve always said why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer Prize for Edwards and OJ Simpson and all of these things? But anyway, so they have a picture, an old picture having breakfast with Lee Harvey Oswald. Now, nothing – I’m not saying anything. They said, and here’ show the press takes that story. So this had nothing to do with me except I might have pointed it out but it had nothing to do with me. I have no control over anything. I might have pointed it out. But they never denied, did anybody ever…Did anybody ever deny that was the father? They’re not saying, ‘Oh that wasn’t really my father.’ It was a little hard to do. It looked like him. So here’s the story. The press takes that and they say, ‘Donald Trump and his conspiracy theories. He went out and said his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald and he assassinated the president.’ What did I do? So two things. Those were the two points. So on those two points he said about the endorsement and I just had it cleared up. I think I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing it but I have to do it. Number 1, the Heidi thing you understand. Now, number two, I know nothing about his father. I know nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald, but there was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility.
Frankly, this whole disaster makes Illinois Review's John DiLeo's theory about what Trump is up to not so hard to believe.
The press conference in its entirety: