Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign Tuesday after a devastating defeat in Indiana’s presidential primary, virtually assuring Donald Trump the GOP’s presidential nomination.
“We gave it everything we’ve got, but the voters chose another path,” Mr. Cruz said at his post-election party.
Mr. Trump’s status as the presumptive nominee was confirmed by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who said in a Twitter message that the billionaire businessman has it sewn up.
“We all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton,” Mr. Priebus said.
Mr. Cruz for months had begged for a one-on-one showdown with Mr. Trump, and got it in Indiana. But given the chance, he failed to connect with voters, and showed a testiness over the attacks Mr. Trump was leveling.
Just hours before he dropped out, he called Mr. Trump a “bully,” a proud “serial philanderer,” a “narcissist” and a “pathological liar,” and pointed to the businessman and reality TV star’s own admitted struggle with a venereal disease as reason he can’t be elected.
Speaking Tuesday night, Mr. Cruz did not mention Mr. Trump, but did call for a unity of purpose within the GOP in the fight for freedom and against security threats.
Suspending his bid does not forfeit Mr. Cruz’s delegates to the convention, but it means he’ll no longer actively compete for the nomination, leaving only Ohio Gov. John Kasich still in the race.
Kasich strategist John Weaver, in a memo just after polls closed Tuesday, insisted the governor will fight on.
“Tonight’s results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich’s campaign plans. Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention,” Mr. Weaver said.
For Mr. Cruz, though, the results were impossible to ignore.
With most precincts reporting, he trailed Mr. Trump by more than 15 percentage points in Indiana — the seventh straight win for Mr. Trump.
Mr. Cruz’s path to the nomination was tricky from the start, with a crowded field offering voters many options. The Texan had hoped to run as the anti-establishment voice, but Mr. Trump occupied that role, forcing Mr. Cruz to revamp.
He outlasted almost all of the other competitors, and tried to pivot to earn establishment Republicans’ support in the final weeks of the campaign, but was not a convincing alternative for many of them.