Billionaire Donald Trump — once a long shot and vilified by his party leadership — became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee last night after dominating the Indiana primary and forcing his last credible rival, Ted Cruz, to drop out.
“We’re going after Hillary Clinton,” Trump told supporters in New York City last night. “She will not be a great president. She will not be a good president. She will be a poor president.”
News organizations projected Trump the winner in Indiana seconds after the polls closed. Cruz, the Texas U.S. senator whose only path to victory was a brokered convention, suddenly faced even longer odds to raise money and justify a prolonged fight.
“From the beginning I’ve said I’d 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 told his backers, who began shouting “No!”
Cruz hinted at a return to national politics down the road.
“With a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign,” Cruz said.
While Trump pivoted to the general election showdown, Clinton remained mired in a primary battle with Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who beat the poll projections and took Indiana last night. Trump jumped on Clinton’s comments — which she has since tried to walk back — that she’d embrace clean energy and put coal miners out of work.
“The miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania … Ohio and all over, are going to start to work again,” said Trump, naming key battleground states the two will likely spend the next six months fighting for. “Believe me, you’re going to be proud again to be miners.”
Several weeks ago, chaos and calamity had threatened to overtake the GOP convention in Cleveland this July when Trump’s ability to win the 1,237 needed delegates seemed to be in jeopardy.
But everything changed on April 19, when Trump won New York with 60 percent of the vote — the start of a wave of massive primary victories that Cruz never recovered from. After the Empire State, Trump racked up crushing wins in five states a week later and triumphed again by double-digits in Indiana last night.
Moments after Cruz dropped out, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus sought to unify his fractured party.
“@realDonaldTrump will be presumtive @GOP nominee, we all need to unite and focus on defeating @Hillary Clinton #NeverClinton,” Priebus tweeted minutes after Cruz withdrew.
Trump also sought to bring the GOP together, calling Cruz’s decision to drop out “brave” and “great.”
“I have met some of the most incredible competitors that I have ever competed against right here on the Republican party,” Trump said. “Ted Cruz, I don’t know if he likes me, or he doesn’t like me, but he is one hell of a competitor. He is a tough smart guy, and he has got an amazing future.”
Technically, Ohio Gov. John Kasich still remains in the race, but he is in fourth place in the delegate race, now behind two rivals who have dropped out.
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