Cruz shuns Trump, GOP unity; says 'challenges' may lie ahead

Texas senator delivers first speech since leaving race

In his first speech since being forced out of the presidential race by Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz neither endorsed Trump nor urged Texas Republicans to unite behind him.

Cruz told a crowd of about 8,000 gathered at the Texas Republican convention in Dallas Saturday that “... we may face some challenging days ahead.”

In his 25-minute speech touching on conservative values and policy goals, Cruz failed to mention Trump's name even once despite calls by Texas party leaders, including Gov. Gregg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. John Cornyn, for the party to unite behind Trump to ensure victory in November.

“What our campaign sought, is it sparked a movement, a movement across America.” Cruz told the delegates. 'Millions and millions of freedom loving patriots. And that movement is far more important than any one campaign. It's far more important than any one candidate.”

In an earlier interview Saturday Cruz said he still hasn't decided who he'll support.

“I can tell you what I'm doing and suspect millions of Americans are doing, looking and listening; looking and listening to what candidates have to say, and in particular I'm looking for a candidate who will defend the conservative principles that this campaign was all about.” Cruz said.

A majority of Texas Republicans voted for Cruz over Trump in the state primary. Jay Wiley, a Cruz supporter from Austin, says it will take time for those in the Cruz to recover from the bruising primary contest.

“I think there's a ways to go and those who are principled conservatives stand by our principles, and it's tough to go along with Trump on a lot of things cause you don't know where he's going to be from day to day.” Wiley said.

Others say they have already decided.

“I don't like Donald Trump, and I don't plan to vote for Donald Trump, and I don't think he represents what our party is supposed to stand for,” said Lisa Barry, a Republican convention delegate from Jefferson County.

But some Cruz supporters are already coalescing behind Trump as the only alternative for putting a Republican in the White House.

“We have to come around because if we want to heal this party we gotta be together. It's going to be a tough election,” Katy delegate Stuart Mayper said.

Party leaders repeatedly warned delegates that failing to back Trump would effectively cede the presidential race to Hillary Clinton, who leads Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race for the Democratic Party's nomination.