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Donald Trump to close Republican convention with bid to unite party

Published 21/07/2016

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L)shakes hands with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the end of the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L)shakes hands with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the end of the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump is set to make his case to America - and to the many rattled doubters within his own party.

The most important speech of his presidential campaign so far will bring down the balloons at a Republican convention marked by divided loyalties and unwanted distractions.

Competing passions were sharply on display on Wednesday night when Mr Trump's fiercest primary rival, Ted Cruz, stopped far short of endorsing the nominee and drew loud boos from the audience.

The remarkable scenes overshadowed the speech by Mike Pence, who was formally nominated for vice-president.

Mr Cruz was defeated by Mr Trump in the race to become the Republican candidate, and in his speech to party delegates he mentioned the tycoon by name only once, and stubbornly refused to endorse him as he encouraged Americans to simply "vote your conscience" in November.

Mr Trump unexpectedly walked into the arena just as Mr Cruz was ending his remarks. Delegates chanted Mr Trump's name and implored Mr Cruz to voice his support for the businessman, to no avail.

Mr Cruz's wife Heidi even had to be escorted from the convention floor for her own safety as she was heckled by Trump delegates.

Mr Trump later tweeted about Mr Cruz's speech: "No big deal!" He said he saw the text of his speech two hours before it was delivered but thought "let him speak anyway".

The extraordinary scenes on Wednesday night show how split Republicans are following Mr Trump's controversial campaign, and were at odds with the later claim by Mr Pence that it is a "united party".

Mr Trump's top adviser said Mr Cruz "used very bad judgment" when he failed to endorse the presidential nominee.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich waves to the crowd after delivering a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich waves to the crowd after delivering a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Paul Manafort told NBC's Today on Thursday morning that Mr Trump invited his primary opponents to address the convention in Cleveland because "he views the primary process as over". Convention delegates formally nominated Mr Trump on Tuesday.

Mr Manafort added that Mr Cruz "was not respectful" to that invitation, but he insisted despite that snub, the Republican Party is coming together.

Mr Trump will close the convention with his speech on Thursday evening.

Ted Cruz speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland (AP)
Ted Cruz speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland (AP)

AP

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets vice presidential candidate Mike Pence after his speech on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets vice presidential candidate Mike Pence after his speech on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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