NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — John Kasich has suspended his campaign for the White House, making Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for president.
Kasich officially ended his campaign late Wednesday afternoon. In a tweet, he thanked his supporters.
Kasich had earlier cancelled a news conference in Virginia, a day after Ted Cruz dropped out of the race following Trump’s primary win Tuesday in Indiana.
Kasich had pledged Tuesday night to stay in the race, with his campaign manager saying the governor would continue to “offer the voters a clear choice for our country.”
The Kasich campaign also released a statement Tuesday, saying: “Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention.”
But Kasich has won just one primary, his home state of Ohio, and trails Trump by nearly 900 delegates.
Trump told CNN that he’s willing to consider Kasich as a running mate, saying he would “be interested in vetting John,” but adds that even as governor, Kasich would be “helpful” with swinging Ohio into Trump’s column on Election Day.
Trump says he has a good relationship with Kasich, the billionaire’s last remaining Republican rival for the GOP presidential nomination.
Trump also said he would even consider vetting Cruz as a running mate. He asked former rival Dr. Ben Carson to help with the running mate selection process.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Trump announced for president 323 days ago. A week later a Washington Post poll had him in 11th place with one percent.
His journey to the nomination has been nothing short of remarkable.
“I don’t think I would have run if I thought I couldn’t have won,” Trump said. “So I’m not sure I sat there and said, ‘I’m going to win.’ But subconsciously, I must have thought that I was going to win and felt I was going to win.”
Now, it’s virtually certain that two New Yorkers will face off for the presidency in November.
Some snickered as Trump rode an escalator down to announce his campaign, but he rose to the top of a crowded field and is poised to represent the GOP this fall.
“We had 17 people, all smart, one by one, week after week, boom, boom, boom, gone, gone, gone,” Trump said.
Political scientist David Birdsell said few saw this coming last summer.
“He’s been carried to victory by an electorate that’s very tired of the way politics is being conducted today, and he’s being carried to victory by an electorate that wants to see an outsider,” Birdsell said.
As Birdsell told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez, Trump supporters are attracted by the perception that he ‘tells it like it is.’
“His willingness to blow up all of the idols. All of the sacred truths of the Republican Party en route to his victory,” he said.
Cruz had hoped to play the outsider role, but voters didn’t buy it.
When he dropped out on Tuesday night, he never mentioned Trump, but had blistered him earlier in the day.
“Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it!” Cruz said.
Kasich didn’t mention Trump when he dropped out either.
The GOP now faces the daunting task of uniting after a divisive primary.
“How they come together in Cleveland is anyone’s guess at this point, and I’m sure it’s keeping Reince Preibus, the chair of the RNC up at night,” Birdsell said.
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized the GOP primary and its contenders in a statement on Wednesday.
“With Governor Kasich out of the race, any remaining hope the GOP had of concealing its true colors behind his comparatively friendly-faced candidacy has evaporated,” the DNC chair said in a statement.
“Today, the only energy left in the Republican primary isn’t for anything, it’s against everything that doesn’t line up with their extreme views,” the statement continued. “The obstruction and broken government we’re seeing in Washington is the result.”
The likely Democratic nominee has played up the Republican divide pitting faction against faction.
Clinton’s team aired a brutal mashup from the divisive GOP primary, featuring Marco Rubio calling Trump a “con artist,” Mitt Romney calling him a “phony,” and former New York Gov. George Pataki calling him “the know-nothing candidate.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is also seen, saying Trump “needs therapy.”
“This is, to me, a classic case of a blustering, bullying guy, who has knocked out of the way all of the Republicans because they were just dumbfounded,” Clinton said.
The Clinton campaign also released a long list of Republican elected officials and activists who said they’ll never vote for Trump.
“I invite them to join with Democrats. Let’s get on the American team. Let’s get off the red or the blue team. Let’s get on the American team,” Hillary Clinton said.
Donald Trump has used the word easy to describe how he’ll beat Clinton in November, but the polls tell a different story.
A brand new CNN survey has her with a 13 point lead nationwide, and Siena has Clinton up 26 points in New York.
But unlike Clinton, he is now able to focus fully on the general election. Clinton still must keep one eye on Bernie Sanders, who told CBS News’ Scott Pelley Wednesday night that he still sees a chance of winning.
Pelley asked Sanders, “Do we have your word, in this interview, that you’re not going to drop out before the Democratic Convention?”
“Absolutely,” Sanders replied. “We have made that commitment. I’m going to be in it until the last vote is cast.”
Trump still needs about 200 delegates to formally secure the nomination, but Cruz’s abrupt decision to end his campaign removed his last major obstacle.
(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.)