INDIANAPOLIS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Ted Cruz is calling it quits.
Following his loss in Indiana Tuesday night to Donald Trump, the senator from Texas announced he is dropping out of the Republican presidential race.
“And so with a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism, for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign,” Cruz said.
Cruz said his campaign gave it their all in the Hoosier State.
“From the beginning I said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I am 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.”
He continued, “But hear me now, I am not suspending our fight for liberty.”
Cruz dropping out puts Trump on a glide path to claim the Republican Party’s nomination. According to CBS News, Trump has secured 1,034 of the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. Cruz was at 562.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Trump is now the “presumptive nominee,” adding that “we all need to unite and focus on defeating” Hillary Clinton.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, this was the 15th time this election cycle that Trump bumped a fellow Republican out of the race.
During his victory rally in New York, Trump called Cruz “one tough competitor.”
“Just so you understand, Ted Cruz — I don’t know if he likes me or doesn’t like me — he’s one hell of a competitor, he’s one tough guy, and he’s got an amazing future,” Trump said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted that Cruz should be proud of what he accomplished in his campaign.
“Sen. @TedCruz should be proud of his strong and disciplined campaign. Texas is lucky to have you. Best wishes going forward,” Kasich said.
Kasich strategist John Weaver told The Washington Post that the Ohio governor will remain in the race.
Cruz, who hasn’t topped Trump in a month, campaigned vigorously in Indiana, securing the endorsement of the state’s governor and announcing businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But he appeared to lose momentum in the final days of campaigning and let his frustration with Trump boil over Tuesday, calling the billionaire “amoral” and a “braggadocious, arrogant buffoon.”
Cruz previously vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries in June, clinging to the possibility that Trump will fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs and the race will go to a contested convention.
Had he succeeded in his quest, Cruz would have been the first U.S. president of Hispanic descent, although he often downplayed his heritage on the campaign trail, instead, touting the need for tougher immigration laws, for a border wall along the border with Mexico, protecting gun rights, repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and instituting a flat tax.
Cruz argued he was the only true conservative in the race, building on his reputation in the Senate where he clashed both with Democrats and members of his own party over his ideological stubbornness. Cruz railed against what he called the “Washington cartel,” trying to appeal to an electorate that is craving political outsiders.
But he ultimately couldn’t compete with Trump’s appeal among white, working class voters who were drawn to the billionaire’s outlandish approach to politics.
Cruz’s campaign placed its hopes on a data-driven effort to turn out conservative evangelical Christians who had opted out of recent presidential elections. Increasingly, he would modify his travel schedule to go where data showed there might be pockets of untapped supporters.
With the scale tipping increasingly in Trump’s favor, he announced an extraordinary pact in April with Kasich in which the two would divide their time and resources based on states where they were each poised to do better.
Days later, he prematurely named former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina as his running mate, hoping it would woo some of the female voters turned off by Trump’s brash rhetoric.
Trump’s appeal to evangelicals, though, and the New York billionaire’s popularity with the broader Republican electorate, proved too much.
Cruz was joined on stage with his parents, as well as by Fiorina and his wife, Heidi.
He made no mention of the Republican front-runner, vowing instead to continue his fight for liberty and for the Constitution.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)