NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Donald Trump was projected as the winner of the Indiana Republican primary the minute the last polls closed Tuesday, and was a hair away from being named presumptive nominee with rival Ted Cruz out.
With 56 percent of the vote in, Trump won 53 percent of the vote, Ted Cruz 37 percent, and John Kasich 8 percent, CBS News reported. A few hours Cruz suspended his campaign.
According to CBS News, Trump has secured 1,034 of the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. Cruz was at 562.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, this was the 15th time this election cycle that Trump bumped a fellow Republican out of the race.
While Kasich remained in the race as of Tuesday night, Cruz’s withdrawal brought Trump into a near lock on the nomination.
Still, the Kasich campaign released a statement Tuesday night saying, “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”
Speaking to his supporters at Trump Tower back in New York Tuesday, Trump emphasized that he had made a major comeback in Indiana after being projected to lose.
“It’s been some unbelievable day and evening and year, and I’ve never been through anything like this, but it’s a beautiful thing to behold,” Trump said. “And we’re going to make America great again.”
Trump said there had been 60,000 negative ads on the air against him in Indiana, which he called “absolutely false and disgusting.” But he said the public was “so smart they don’t buy it.”
Trump did have some kind words for Cruz, calling him “one tough competitor.”
“Just so you understand, Ted Cruz – I don’t know if he likes me or if he doesn’t like me, but he is one hell of a competitor. He is a tough, smart guy, and he has got an amazing future,” Trump said. “He has got an amazing future. So I want to congratulate Ted.”
In talking about other candidates who were good “competitors,” Trump focused only on two candidates who already endorsed him, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dr. Ben Carson. He did not specifically advise Cruz to endorse him, but he did say it was time for unity.
He went on to turn his attention toward Clinton.
“We’re going after Hillary Clinton. She will not be a great president. She will not be a good president. She will be a poor president,” Trump said.
Clinton presidential campaign chairman John Podesta released a statement late Tuesday on the prospect of Trump as nominee.
“Fundamentally, our next president will need to do two things: keep our nation safe in a dangerous world and help working families get ahead here at home. Donald Trump is not prepared to do either. Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump has demonstrated that he’s too divisive and lacks the temperament to lead our nation and the free world. With so much at stake, Donald Trump is simply too big of a risk,” the statement said in part.
In withdrawing a short time earlier, Cruz said he had no path left to win.
“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz said. “Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got. But the voters chose another path, and so with a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”
Cruz did not mention Trump in his speech.
Trump for some time has been painting himself as the eventual GOP nominee, and experts said the win in Indiana all but put him there even before Cruz withdrew.
“It’s pretty much over if Donald Trump wins, especially if he wins by the margins the polls are suggesting,” said John Heilman, Bloomberg Politics co-managing editor.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus also tweeted that Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee and said it was time to focus on defeating the Democrats.
New Yorkers who support Trump were jubilant Tuesday night.
“Just an amazing night with Ted Cruz conceding,” one man said.
“The man that built an empire, he’s going to build the country again,” another said.
CBS News exit polling indicated that Trump won in Indiana with groups who have supported him throughout the campaign. He won 57 percent of male voters compared with 34 percent for Cruz, and 76 percent of voters who want someone outside the establishment compared with 17 percent for Cruz.
Trump also had a small edge with white evangelicals, who make up 54 percent of Indiana Republican primary voters. He won 48 percent of those voters compared with 45 percent for Cruz.
Trump noted in his speech that he had won with evangelicals, and said when he is president, “We will be saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
He noted also that he had won with virtually every category – including women, men, Hispanics an African-Americans.
Cruz did better with groups who have backed him in the past, such as very conservative voters and voters who attend religious services regularly.
If Trump does indeed win the nomination, he will be the first non-politician to win a major-party nomination since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. If he and Clinton are the nominees for the general election, New York will see two residents pitted against each other.
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