"Sergeant Michael Smith stood up to protect our freedom," he said, referring to the recently-killed Dallas police officer. The crowd cheered.
"So do our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines fighting radical Islamic terrorism," Cruz said. That drew chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A."
"So did the family of Alton Sterling, who bravely called to end the violence."
The mention of Sterling, the black man whose killing by Baton Rouge police sent shockwaves through the US, drew…almost no reaction from the crowd. Besides a few claps you could barely make out, there was total silence.
Cruz had been building applause breaks in after each of these lines, so the silence from the Republican crowd at the mention of Alton Sterling's name was immediate and obvious to everyone watching.
Cruz seemed to catch on that the crowd wast not going to pick up that line, and immediately pivoted to the next one, the families of the nine black people who were murdered by a white supremacist at Charleston's Emmanuel AME Church. This received polite applause.
This would be the last time Cruz would even partially read the mood of the crowd.