Trump, after night of mayhem at convention, takes center stage

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Chris Christie Said Ted Cruz's Speech Was 'Awful'

CLEVELAND, July 21 (Reuters) - Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will try to restore order to his convention on Thursday with a prime-time speech after rival Ted Cruz drew boos for refusing to endorse him.

Trump's speech will close out a four-day conclave in Cleveland that exposed continuing divisions among Republicans over their nominee at a time when they need to unite for a looming battle against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the Nov. 8 election.

Those divisions were laid bare when Trump's last major challenger for the nomination, U.S. Senator Cruz of Texas, urged Republicans to "vote your conscience" and pointedly did not endorse Trump.

See photos from the speech:

29 PHOTOS
Ted Cruz speaks at the Republican National Convention
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Ted Cruz speaks at the Republican National Convention
People react to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., as Cruz addresses the delegate during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Delegates shout as Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. The cost of the convention for the Republican Party will run some $64 million. The number of visitors expected in Cleveland is 50,000, including 15,000 journalists and 2,472 delegates (there are also 2,302 alternate delegates.) / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
People react to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., as Cruz addresses the delegate during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: (L-R) Vanessa Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Tiffany Trump stand as they listen to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speak during the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Delegates hold up signs as Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. The cost of the convention for the Republican Party will run some $64 million. The number of visitors expected in Cleveland is 50,000, including 15,000 journalists and 2,472 delegates (there are also 2,302 alternate delegates.) / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
People react to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., as Cruz addresses the delegate during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Attendees stand as they listens to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivering a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: People boo Senator Ted Cruz as he addresses the crowd, during the third day of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People react to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., as Cruz addresses the delegate during the third day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
A Ted Cruz supporter holds a sign during his speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Delegates stand as they listens to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) deliver a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
UNITED STATES - JULY 20: A woman in the upper seating area yells 'say it' and 'I don't believe you' as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday July 20, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Texas Senator Ted Cruz waves at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Delegates cheer former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz as he speaks during the third night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
Former Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the third night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
US Senetor Ted Cruz speaks on stage at the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. The cost of the convention for the Republican Party will run some $64 million. The number of visitors expected in Cleveland is 50,000, including 15,000 journalists and 2,472 delegates (there are also 2,302 alternate delegates.) / AFP / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. The cost of the convention for the Republican Party will run some $64 million. The number of visitors expected in Cleveland is 50,000, including 15,000 journalists and 2,472 delegates (there are also 2,302 alternate delegates.) / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaks on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 20: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gestures as he walks on stage to deliver a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicked off on July 18. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Wednesday, July 20, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
US Senetor Ted Cruz waves as he arrives on stage at the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. The cost of the convention for the Republican Party will run some $64 million. The number of visitors expected in Cleveland is 50,000, including 15,000 journalists and 2,472 delegates (there are also 2,302 alternate delegates.) / AFP / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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Jeers erupted from Trump supporters in the crowd, and Cruz's wife, Heidi, was escorted out by security amid the shouting.

"I just think it was an awful performance," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a close Trump adviser who was also a presidential rival, told MSNBC.

Christie also called the speech "selfish" in an interview with CNN.

Echoing Donald Trump's tweet, he said, "He signed a pledge. And it's his job to keep his word."

Cruz's speech was another stumble at a convention marked by several missteps, including a speech by Trump's wife, Melania, that included lines similar to those in a 2008 Democratic convention speech by President Barack Obama's wife, Michelle.

RELATED: Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz - RCP poll average

Republicans have used their convention to rally loyalists, but fissures have persisted after a brutal primary battle in which Trump defeated 16 rivals.

RELATED: Social reactions to Cruz's speech

13 PHOTOS
Social Reactions to Ted Cruz's RNC Speech
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Social Reactions to Ted Cruz's RNC Speech
You want principled? That was principled. Cruz @ #RNCinCLE
Ted Cruz: "Vote your conscience."
Ted cruz career just ended
You see the good and bad of Cruz in this speech. Guts to stand up to Trump at convention, but still so much sleazy rhetoric along the way.
Trump tried to be nice by letting Cruz speak but it was a mistake to not see that speech beforehand. That self serving...#gopconvention
Classic @tedcruz tonight in Cleveland. Loved it. #RNCinCLE @GOPconvention #CruzCrew
Lots of @realDonaldTrump supporters upset that @tedcruz withheld his endorsement. I'm not. #RNCinCLE
Ted Cruz: making friends wherever he goes. #RNCinCLE
Nobody at #RNCinCLE has the stones of @tedcruz - dude faced down the crowd and told voters to vote their conscience- didn't endorse Trump.
Ted Cruz just lost hero status 4 life! A robust endorsement for @realDonaldTrump would have put country before self! https://t.co/uKkBNTgbzX
Ted Cruz didn't have the decency to stay home...He should be ashamed of coming to someone's big party and being so rude
Does anyone really think Ted Cruz minds being booed?
Tonight @tedcruz implements Project I Told You So. #RNCinCLE
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As the last speaker in a four-day marathon of events in Cleveland, Trump has his biggest chance yet to try to end the bickering among various factions of the Republican Party and foster a spirit of unity.

The 70-year-old New York businessman will use his speech to formally accept the Republican presidential nomination.

On Wednesday night, he emerged in the convention hall while Cruz was still speaking, a move that appeared intended to steal some attention away from the senator.

RELATED: People weren't happy with Ted Cruz's RNC speech

Then Trump appeared on stage with his vice presidential running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, to greet Pence, who had just delivered an enthusiastic speech in honor of the nominee. An awkward air kiss punctuated their embrace.

"Trump's acceptance speech will be a worldwide event and set up the terms of the debate for the race against Clinton," said Republican strategist Scott Reed. "Nothing rallies the Republicans like a race against the Clintons and an Obama third term." Republicans have characterized a Clinton victory as a virtual third term for Obama.

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The speech represents Trump's best chance yet to try to broaden his appeal. He has attracted millions of voters by pledging to toughen U.S. immigration laws and renegotiate international trade agreements.

He needs a post-convention bounce in public opinion polls to remain competitive with Clinton, who will be in the spotlight next week in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention.

"It's going to be a really important speech because it's part of the reintroduction of Donald Trump," said Lanhee Chen, a Hoover Institution scholar and former aide to 2012 nominee Mitt Romney.

"This is his chance to tell in his own words why he wants to be president, why he believes he is qualified to be president and what he plans to do if he is elected," Chen said. "And those are all things that we don't have a great sense about beyond platitudes about 'making America great again.'"

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Caren Bohan and Jonathan Oatis; Additional reporting by AOL.com)

RELATED: Check out who else will take the stage with Trump

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