Ted Cruz Drops Out of 2016 Race
The Texas senator suspended his campaign, clearing the way for Donald Trump to take the GOP nomination.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign on Tuesday night in Indiana, giving real estate mogul and GOP front-runner Donald Trump a clear path in his upstart march to the Republican nomination.
“From the beginning I’ve said I would continue on as long as there is a viable path to victory,” Cruz told supporters in Indianapolis after losing to Trump in the state’s primary. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed.”
“For the long-term future of the nation we are suspending our campaign,” he continued, “but hear me now: I am not suspending our fight for liberty.”
Cruz was already mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP nomination outright last week, but still took the rare step of naming his running mate, Carly Fiorina, in a last-ditch effort to break Trump’s momentum.
After his win in Indiana, Trump has at least 1,055 delegates, according to the Associated Press. That means he could lose almost every state for the rest of the Republican nominating contest — so long as he wins big in delegate-rich California, where he has a sizable lead, and picks up even just a few delegates in the remaining primaries — and still reach the required 1,237 delegates.
Trump is likely to face Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who also has a comfortable lead in the delegate count. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders narrowly defeated Clinton in the Indiana primary later Tuesday night, but has a near-impossible path to the Democratic nomination.
For Republicans, the near inevitability of Trump’s nomination had begun to sink in before Tuesday’s contest — including for a number of the GOP leaders who had formed a “Never Trump” movement to oppose the businessman. Some have supported Cruz as the most viable alternative.
But that movement seemed to have little impact on Trump’s electoral success, and after Cruz’s speech, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus urged the party to unite behind Trump. “.@realDonaldTrump will be presumtive @GOP nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @HillaryClinton #NeverClinton” he tweeted.
Cruz, the Republican freshman senator, had tried to out-conservative Trump, whom he said was not a true Republican. At the same time, Cruz sought to one-up Trump’s hawkish rhetoric on national security issues.
The Senate Armed Services Committee member promised to “carpet bomb” Islamic State terrorists — and risk civilians — in Iraq and Syria until he found out “if sand can glow in the dark,” and vowed to expand the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But he also tried to thread the needle on foreign policy and not stray too far from the anti-interventionist leanings of grassroots conservatives, saying the U.S. shouldn’t be in the business of regime change, even to the point where he accepted Syrian strongman Bashar al Assad remaining in power as more secure for the U.S.
Cruz vowed Tuesday to “fight on,” though it’s unclear what that battle will look like moving forward in the final months before the Republican convention in July. While early on in the campaign the senator buddied up to the businessman, each candidate’s attacks have grown increasingly sharp as they emerged as the two top contenders for the nomination, with Trump going so far as to insult Cruz’s wife and grant him the moniker “Lyin’ Ted.”
“We will continue to fight next week, next month and next year,” Cruz said Tuesday. Hearkening back to former President Ronald Reagan’s 1988 farewell speech as he prepared to leave office, Cruz added: “We will restore the shining city on the hill for generations to come.”
As of Tuesday night, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich remained in the race, but he trails far behind in the delegate count.
Trump touted his victory in a later speech at Trump Tower in New York. “We have to win again, and we haven’t won,” he said. “We’ve been losing all the time. We lose with our military, we can’t beat ISIS. We lose with trade. We lose with borders. We lose with everything.”
“We’re not going to lose. We’re going to start winning again, and we’re going to win big league, believe me.”
This story has been updated.
Photo credit: Joe Raedle / Staff