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.
@SandyEgoCali Perhaps. #Cruz stood with #Soros & https://t.co/8PU8RjV6a7 & against Freedom of Speech. He is disqualified! @ThomasWictor— Бутс made for #MAGA ⏳ (@Бутс made for #MAGA ⏳) 1457893255.0
Watch the video below from ABC's This Week, broadcast March 13, 2016.