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Sweet: Did “Lyin’ Ted” pull a fast one?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addressing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Wednesday. | AP photo

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CLEVELAND – As it became clear that Sen. Ted Cruz was wrapping up his GOP convention speech without endorsing Donald Trump for president, the boos in the hall grew so loud they virtually blew the Texan off the stage.

“Vote your conscience,” Cruz said, the first signal to the delegates in the hall that the man Trump called Lyin’ Ted during their primary battles was audaciously withholding his backing.

It’s not clear yet whether the Trump campaign stumbled yet again, letting Cruz hijack the storyline of the night. The first night of the convention was dominated by Melania Trump’s speech fiasco, lifting lines from first lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.

A few days before that it was the leak of Trump’s vice presidential pick. I could add more.

OPINION

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Did the barebones Trump political organization know Cruz was not going to endorse? Did anyone vet Cruz’s speech? Did Cruz double cross Trump?

Trump shed some light on the situation himself, in a Tweet after the convention adjourned for the night:

“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!” Trump Tweeted.

What’s worse: That Trump’s campaign was blindsided or that they knew what Cruz planned and let him go on any way?

The lackluster speech by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president pick, didn’t help, because it was not a solid upbeat for Trump, a good take down of Democrat Hillary Clinton or an aspirational anthem. If it had been, I might have been writing about Pence rather than Cruz.

Further evidence of the impact of Cruz’s shunning Trump at his own convention: according to Facebook data, the top social media moment of the night was Cruz’s non-endorsement of Trump.

Former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone told me he wasn’t surprised by Cruz’s bold move – I mean, who speaks at a presidential convention and doesn’t back the party candidate – and said he was not surprised.

“Treachery from Ted Cruz? He’s a shifty, untrustworthy liar. He’s Lyin’ Ted. I never would have put him on the program.”

So why would anyone in the campaign green light Cruz?

“Perhaps he violated an agreement with them,” Stone said.

Or maybe the Trump team knew what Cruz was going to do and thought it was a good idea.

“On the one hand,” Stone said, “our critics say you are not reaching out to your enemies, you are not reaching out to your opponents in the party. Yet we reach out to the guy who ran second, who stayed in the race longer than anyone else, and he doesn’t endorse Trump.”

Does Trump have a muscular campaign? Hard to see. Trump was proud that he snagged the GOP presidential nomination without ads, pollsters, squads of policy advisors, a ground game or the spending of much money.

Political professionals I’ve talked to the past few days thought it was risky for the Trump campaign not to bulk up for the November contest. Just to be prudent, if nothing else.

Tweets by @lynnsweet