Ted Cruz received an indifferent welcome at the annual New York State Republican gala on Thursday, with attendees talking over his speech and walking around while he was still onstage.
All three Republican candidates spoke at the event at the Grand Hyatt in Midtown Manhattan, with Cruz going last. Cruz, wearing a tuxedo, began with a joke in reference to Trump's speech, which was mostly a detailed list of his various real estate and construction ventures. "I will admit to you, I haven't built any buildings in New York City," Cruz said. The line only drew muted laughter.
Cruz then pivoted straight into his stump speech around the themes of "jobs, freedom, and security," making few deviations from his standard remarks that he makes on the trail. Like most stump speeches, this one includes applause lines sprinkled throughout — but the audience barely applauded, and sometimes not at all.
Instead, they grew increasingly loud, with many people talking amongst themselves, milling about, and eating and drinking, their cutlery making audible sounds as Cruz soldiered on through his speech. The din grew louder and louder as the speech progressed.
After Cruz wrapped up and left the stage, state party chairman Ed Cox came onstage to emcee and said "Let's give him another hand!"
This dinner was always going to be a tough crowd for Cruz, especially after his comments earlier in the primary season about "New York values," which offended many New Yorkers and put him at odds with city officials. Despite the unfriendly terrain, Cruz has campaigned in New York City as well as around New York state ahead of the primary next week. But Cruz wasn't the only one who was met with less than full enthusiasm; John Kasich, who spoke between Trump and Cruz, also got a fairly muted reception, though less pronounced than Cruz's. And while Trump's long spiel about his real estate career — combined with an ode to the "New York values" that Cruz criticizes — was much more warmly received, even he was met with resistance from a few of the tables in the room, which pointedly stayed seated while others stood and clapped.
Attendees said afterward that they simply weren't all that interested in Cruz, and his infamous "New York values" comments still rankled.
"I'm a Trump supporter," said Michael, 50, who said he works in private equity and did not want to give his last name. "I've met Ted Cruz, I've met him a couple times, and I'm not really impressed with him as a candidate."
"It's probably because of his comments about New York values," said George Hoehmann, supervisor of the town of Clarkstown in Rockland County, who supports John Kasich. "I think people have had a difficulty forgetting that."
"Cruz absolutely had his supporters in the room, but you could see that it was really more of a Trump-friendly room," Hoehmann said.
"It wasn't a speech that was for a New York crowd," said Matthew Kaufman, a lawyer for a firm on Long Island and is supporting Donald Trump. "If you're gonna be here, know your audience."
"He gives the same speech everywhere," Kaufman said. "I understand, you know, you're making your appearances, but I don't think he knew this audience."