Trump, Cruz, back down from pledge to support Republican nominee

Updated

Despite the escalating animosity between GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz in recent weeks –  due to everything from accusations of lies and philandering to name-calling and shots at their wives – the two men had always begrudgingly agreed on one thing: to support the GOP nominee no matter who would be representing the party come November.

But during a Tuesday night town hall broadcast on CNN, Trump pulled out of that promise.

3/24/16, 3:58 PM ET

Cruz: Trump is 'a sniveling coward'

At a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin on Thursday, Ted Cruz called Donald Trump “a sniveling coward” and warned him to leave his wife, Heidi, “…the hell alone.”
“Honestly he doesn’t have to support me,” the real estate mogul said of Cruz. “I’m not asking for his support. I want the people’s support.”

When pushed again by moderator Anderson Cooper about whether he’d respect the so-called “Loyalty Pledge” a stage full of then-candidates agreed to during the very first GOP debate in Cleveland last August, Trump was more direct:

“No, I don’t anymore. No. We’ll see who it is. And he was essentially saying the same thing.”

Cruz has been more slowly backing away from the pledge for the last week after Trump retweeted a supporter who attacked the appearance of Heidi Cruz compared to Melania Trump. At the time, Cruz pointed at the camera, called Trump a “sniveling coward” and said he should “leave Heidi the hell alone.” But Cruz stopped short of saying he wouldn’t support Trump in the general election.

“I’m going to beat him for the nomination,” he told NBC News’ Katy Tur Thursday as he dodged her question multiple times. “Donald Trump will not be the nominee.”

Cruz was similarly cagey Tuesday night when asked again about backing Trump, but seemed to be pulling out of the pledge.

“I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and attacks my family,” Cruz said on stage in Milwaukee. “I think that is going beyond the line. They don’t belong in the attacks. And, listen, I’m not an easy person to tick off, but when you go after my wife, when you go after my daughters, that does it.”

He continued to slip the question posed by Cooper, but held fast to his “solution” to the pledge of defeating Trump.

“We’re going to beat him,” Cruz reiterated.

Donald Trump

Trump, Cruz, back down from pledge to support Republican nominee

Updated