Many outraged Republican voters said over the weekend that they were switching their votes from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to Donald Trump because they were concerned that the Texas senator may support the rights of Black Lives Matter protesters after he admonished the billionaire GOP front-runner for encouraging violence at his rallies.
After Trump chose to call off a rally in Chicago on Friday because of organized protests, Cruz said at a press conference that the "campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment where the candidate urges supporters to engage in violence."
On Sunday, Cruz told ABC host George Stephanopoulos that it would be wrong for protesters to try to shut down a political rally, but he said that it was also Trump's responsibility not to incite violence among his supporters.
"In any campaign, the responsibility starts at the top," the senator opined. "And it is not beneficial when you have a candidate like Donald Trump who is telling his protesters, 'Punch that guy in the face.' You know, I don't think you should be encouraging people to violence."
Many conservative voters, however, saw Cruz's attack on Trump as de facto support for Black Lives Matter. (In fact, Cruz has constantly opposed Black Lives Matter or any left-leaning group. He accused accused Black Lives Matter last year of "literally... celebrating the murder of police officers.")
"So Ted Cruz blamed Trump for the MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter and all other hate organizing groups protesting in Chicago because Trump stands up for calling things what they are?" blogger Dianne Marshall wrote. "It is now obvious to all that Cruz stands more for the progressive left leaning extreme thinking who stand up in support for those who want to ignore the laws, create strife, spew hate, and destroy America from within."
On Saturday, a Breitbart headline declared: "Voters Slam Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio for Blaming Chicago Rally Shutdown on Donald Trump."
Voters on Twitter linked Cruz to Black Lives Matter, George Soros and Bill Ayers -- while pledging to switch their support to Donald Trump.
i am seeing a continuing steady exodus of cruz voters to trump based on the sale of his soul to Neil Bush and BLM defense!↓ Story continues below ↓
— KellyLee (@jasian12345) March 13, 2016
@marcorubio I hate hypocrites. It used be the democrats-now Cruz and Rubio have joined in with George Soros and the left.
— SAC (@sac12910) March 13, 2016
— FaithFamilyFreedom (@AmericaMarches) March 13, 2016
Move On -BLM -liberals attacking Trump so now Cruz is liberal backer along with Rubio and Kasich vote these out https://t.co/49SvYomwii
— Echo75 (@Seirra75) March 13, 2016
How can ANYONE be a Cruz or Rubio supporter at this point? They took the side of the fascist, anti-American left over Republicans. Sell-outs
— Little-Marco (@RubioRoboto) March 13, 2016
— Cindy Boots (@CynthiaStillBB) March 13, 2016
Never thought I'd support Trump, but when I realize the racist left would shut down Cruz/Rubio, too, I do now. https://t.co/xVBimjCiSH
— Charles Rutherford (@superchachi) March 13, 2016
Cruz sided w/ Bill Ayers, BLM and MoveOn agitators over thousands of law abiding citizens - not a decent move. https://t.co/D4z40Yog06
— Boris Ryvkin (@BRyvkin) March 13, 2016