Cruz Ending Campaign After Indiana Loss to Trump
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
INDIANAPOLIS — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Tuesday ended his campaign for the presidency after suffering a devastating loss to front runner Donald Trump in the Indiana primary.
“I said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory," the Texas senator told supporters here, spawning some pained shouts of "No!" "Tonight I am sorry to say that it appears that path has foreclosed.”
“We gave it everything we got, but the voters chose another path," Cruz added. "We are suspending our campaign, but hear me out: I am not suspending our fight for liberty.”
Trump was projected to beat Cruz by about 20 points, 54 percent to 35 percent. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had struck a deal with Cruz to effectively concede the Hoosier State, was winning less than 10 percent of the vote.
Trump was on track to win most — if not all — of Indiana's 57 delegates, significantly easing his path to the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the Republican National Convention. Eyeing a contested convention, Cruz had vowed to stay in the race regardless of the outcome in the Hoosier State.
Minutes after major TV networks projected Trump's victory, he renewed his call for Cruz to leave the race.
"Lyin' Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana," Trump tweeted. "If he doesn't he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money."
In a victory speech from New York later in the evening, Trump was more gracious. "Ted Cruz, I don't know if he likes me or doesn't like me, but he is one helluva competitor," Trump said in a brief reference. "He's got an amazing future."
Cruz went all in on Indiana, recognizing its importance in holding Trump under the 1,237-delegate threshold. In addition to teaming up with Kasich, Cruz took the unusual step of naming former rival Carly Fiorina his running mate. He also had the backing of Gov. Mike Pence, an initially tepid endorsement that Pence sought to fortify in the final days before the primary.
With the loss, Cruz was left with a narrower path than ever to the nomination, entirely dependent on denying Trump 1,237 delegates.
Cruz’s campaign indicated Tuesday afternoon that he would not immediately leave the race, announcing rallies Wednesday in Nebraska and Washington. For weeks, Cruz had said the race would come down to the primary June 7 in California, whose 172 delegates make it the biggest prize of the nominating process.
Cruz entered the race more than a year ago, the first Republican candidate in a field that ultimately grew to 17. Declaring his candidacy at Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by late evangelist Jerry Falwell, Cruz signaled from the get-go his commitment to consolidating support from the religious right.
Cruz was instantly given long odds, a product of his short but divisive career in the U.S. Senate. He won his seat there in 2012 after a bitter primary against then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, now a Cruz supporter.
For months, Cruz languished in the background of the presidential race while a handful of rivals, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, commanded much of the attention. While Cruz’s early announcement gave him a boost, it proved to be only temporary, and for most of the summer, he polled toward the back of the GOP pack.
It was not until late fall that Cruz began appearing ascendant. He entered the holiday season as a tentative favorite to win the Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, powered by a series of influential endorsements in the state and a well-organized, slow-building campaign there.
Before Iowans made their selection, however, Cruz had to deal with the 500-pound elephant in the room: frontrunner Trump. For months, Cruz had made a point of not criticizing the billionaire, instead effusively praising him in hopes of winning over his supporters one day.
That strategy met its match in the Hawkeye State, where a few weeks before the caucuses, the two candidates finally started butting heads. Cruz began to assail Trump as a fake conservative with a lifetime of supporting Democratic candidates and causes.
Cruz nonetheless proved triumphant in Iowa on Feb. 1, beating Trump by a few points.
After placing a better-than-expected third in the New Hampshire primary, Cruz stared down another crucial contest: South Carolina. Initially seen as a fit for Cruz, the state ended up being a bloody battle in which Cruz took a disappointing bronze, battered by endless allegations of dishonesty and “dirty tricks” from Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
The outcome in the Palmetto State did not bode well for March 1, when a number of other southern states held their primaries. Cruz easily won Texas after making a late push to shore up his support there, but his only two other wins of the day — Alaska and Oklahoma — made for anything but the momentous day his campaign had long telegraphed.
After the SEC primary, Cruz and his campaign focused more than ever on forcing a two-man race with Trump. Their hopes were half-fulfilled on March 15, when Trump devastated Rubio in his home state of Florida and the senator bowed out. But Ohio Gov. John Kasich prevailed in his home state the same day, giving him a new lease on life.
“I said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight I am sorry to say that it appears that path has foreclosed.”— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
The ensuing weeks saw no shortage of bragging points for Cruz, whose campaign dominated complex delegate contests in places like Colorado while Trump struggled to professionalize his efforts. For Cruz, the high point of the period came on April in Wisconsin, where he walloped Trump.
Cruz had called his Wisconsin victory a “turning point” in the race, but it proved to be the opposite. Trump went on to rack up six overwhelming wins over the next two weeks, first in his home state of New York then in five other northeastern contests.
Trump’s winning streak mathematically eliminated Cruz from being able to clinch the nomination before Cleveland, leaving a contested convention as his only hope. Against that backdrop, Cruz headed into Indiana facing immense pressure to hold Trump under the 1,237 delegates he needed to secure the nomination.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/03/cruz-suffers-devastating-loss-indiana-primary/.