- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin delegates at the Republican National Convention said Thursday they are disappointed that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stopped short of endorsing Donald Trump, a move that resulted in a cascade of boos and brought to light ongoing divisions in the party as leaders call for unity.

Cruz urged Republicans on Wednesday night to “vote your conscience,” a message at odds with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s speech, in which he called for support of Trump in order to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. It also largely overshadowed the keynote speech from Trump’s vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Cruz has strong support in Wisconsin: He won the state’s primary by 13 points and garnered endorsements from Walker and other high-profile Republicans. But delegates said Thursday it’s time for him to get behind Trump, despite coming in second nationally.

“Cruz not endorsing amounts to political suicide,” said Keith Best, an alternate delegate attending the convention from Brantwood.

Dane County Republican Party Chairman Scott Grabins said in an email that he understands the primary campaign left “bruises.”

“However, I was disappointed in some of the jabs he took during his speech,” Grabins said in an email. “He made so many other good points that I think are unfortunately overshadowed now.”

Delegate John Macy, chairman of the Waukesha County Republican Party, said it showed a lack of character.

“This is the type of person Cruz is,” Macy said.

Alternate delegate Sue Lynch, a Republican activist from La Crosse County, said Cruz embarrassed the party and should have honored the pledge he made as a candidate to endorse the ticket.

“Ted Cruz is a sore loser,” Lynch said.

The delegates said they were optimistic that Trump would close out the convention Thursday on a high note.

“I expect to hear Trump build on the messages of the last several days and look towards the general election now,” Grabins said. “I hope to hear him reach out to the various factions within the party and invite them in to work with his campaign - that’s what is most important as we finish the convention this week.”

Walker said Thursday during an interview on WTMJ-AM that he hopes Trump’s camp will stop criticizing fellow Republicans - such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who won’t endorse Trump and did not attend the convention - and instead focus on Clinton.

“I don’t think it does any good for the party or undecided voters for them to be talking about anybody other than Hillary Clinton,” Walker said.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP and find more of his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer

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