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BLOG: Pence defends Trump, calls for unity

York Dispatch

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Delegates at the Republican National Convention thunderously booed Ted Cruz for refusing to endorse Donald Trump Wednesday — clouding an evening intended to highlight vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as a unifying force for the party. The disorder provided fresh reminders of the fissures that remain.

Republican presidential Candidate Donald Trump, kisses Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana after Pence's acceptance speech during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Cruz walked onto the Cleveland stage to a standing ovation and held the audience’s rapt attention until he told delegates to “vote your conscience” with no mention of nominee Trump, who had called him “Lyin’ Ted” on the campaign trail. The crowd then turned on him with loud boos.

Soon after, Pence, in accepting the party’s nomination, sought to bring the party together: “What unites us far exceeds anything that sets us apart in America,” he said.

Pence lauded Trump is his own man, an independent spirit, and said change in the country will be “huge” under his presidency.

Delegates cheered: “We like Mike! We like Mike!”

Pence framed the November presidential race as crucial to defining the makeup of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years. He said voters must ensure it’s Trump picking the justices.

He called presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton the “secretary of the status quo,” referring to her former job as secretary of state.

Pence said he never thought he’d be standing on the stage at his party’s national convention. He joked that Trump is charismatic and must have been looking for balance in choosing him.