Texas Sen. Ted Cruz cleared the path on Tuesday night for Donald Trump to claim the Republican presidential nomination, suspending his underdog campaign following a crushing defeat in the Indiana primary, allowing the billionaire businessman to effectively leave the raucous primary behind and turn his attention squarely to the general election.“We’re gonna win in November,” Trump said.
John Kasich’s campaign said the Ohio governor would remain in the race until a candidate reaches the necessary 1,237 delegates. But with Cruz ending his bid, Trump would appear on a glide path to hitting that, having vanquished almost everyone in what was once a 17-person field – and now within easy reach of the party mantle, an outcome some pundits and power-brokers once refused to even contemplate.
Cruz announced his decision to dismayed supporters in Indianapolis. “I said 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.
While a Trump-Hillary Clinton match-up now appears inevitable, Sen. Bernie Sanders kept the race alive on the Democratic side on Tuesday night by pulling off a projected upset victory in Indiana.
“I understand that Secretary Clinton thinks that this campaign is over,” Sanders said, adding that he has “bad news” for her.
Sanders said he expects “more victories in the weeks to come” though he admitted he has an “uphill climb” to the nomination.
But on the GOP side, while Kasich remains in the race and Trump still could face drama at the party convention in Cleveland, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus declared him the presumptive nominee on Tuesday night, as did Clinton.
Trump addressed supporters at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday night after his seventh consecutive victory in Indiana. He called Cruz one hell of a competitor, calling his decision to drop out of the race brave.
He also said that while he wasn't sure if Cruz likes him, he praised his former rival as a smart and tough guy who had an amazing future ahead of him.
Trump then turned his attention to his likely Democratic opponent, saying, “We're going after Hillary Clinton.”
The New York billionaire criticized Clinton's recent comments about the coal industry. He says she wants to close mines and he promised to help coal miners get back to work.
According to an estimate delegate count, Clinton went into Tuesday’s contest with a commanding lead over Sanders. Clinton has 2,165 delegates compared to Sanders’ 1,357. A Democratic candidate needs 2,383 delegates to shore up the party’s nomination.
So far, Clinton has secured 91% of the delegates she needs to win the nomination. That means, even if she loses every single remaining primary, she can still win the nomination.