UPDATED, 6:05 PM: RNC chief Reince Priebus wasted little time issuing a plea for unity in the party after Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after getting thumped by Donald Trump tonight in Indiana. “Donald Trump will be presumptive GOP nominee; we all need to unite and focus on defeating Hillary Clinton,” Priebus said. The plea comes ahead of Donald Trump’s victory lap.
Updated, 5:42 PM: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has dropped out of the presidential race after taking a pounding from Donald Trump in today’s Indiana primary. Trump, who has never run for elected office, is now the presumptive GOP nominee for the White House, though John Kasich, who has one just one primary, is the other GOP candidate left standing.
In his concession speech, Cruz pointedly made no mention of Trump. That would have been a tough pivot, given that Cruz had started the day calling Trump a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and someone who boasts about infidelity, builds giant buildings on which he puts his name because of a “yawning cavern of insecurity,” and uses the National Enquirer to “smear” political opponents.
“From the beginning I have said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz told followers at his campaign HQ in the state. “Tonight I am sorry to say it appears the path has been foreclosed,” he said as the crowd groaned. “Together we left it all on the field in Indiana; we gave it everything we’ve got but the voters chose another path.”
Cruz suspended his campaign after today’s voting results indicated he would not win enough delegates to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates that gives him the nom heading into the GOP convention.
UPDATED, 5:15 PM: Sanders’ lead widened to nearly 13K voters with 41% of the voting results in, 52.1%-47.9%.
UPDATED, 4:56 PM: Bernie Sanders had taken a slight lead on Hillary Clinton as he took to the podium to tell his followers that “what is particularly exciting for me is that, in primary after primary, caucus after caucus” he is winning with younger voters. This, he said, means his ideas “are the ideas of the future of America and the future of the Democratic party.” With 27% of precincts reporting, the Vermont senator is ahead by 50.8%-49.2%.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:13 PM: Indiana voters stared into the abyss – and voted for real estate developer-turned reality TV star Donald Trump anyway. The instant the polls closed in that state, cable news networks called it for the GOP front-runner who’d started the day citing a National Enquirer report to Fox News Channel alleging that the dad of his closest Republican rival Ted Cruz was with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald murdered President Kennedy, suggesting the elder Cruz might have been involved in some way.
With 9% of the vote in, Trump already was leading by nearly 21K GOP votes (54.2%) over Cruz (32.8%) and John Kasich (10%).
On the Dem side, things were too close to call. At the time networks were calling it for Trump on the GOP side, Hillary Clinton was about 4K ahead of Bernie Sanders with 53.3% of the votes to Sanders’ 46.7%.
Cruz, the GOP candidate who had not won a delegate since New York but was going to clean up among Indiana’s evangelical voters, started the day warning Indiana voters, “The entire country is depending on you…We are staring at the abyss. It is only Indiana that can pull us back.”
Sensing the results to come, Cruz held a morning news conference in which he announced Trump to be an “utterly amoral,” “pathological liar” who boasts about infidelity, builds giant buildings on which he puts his name because of a “yawning cavern of insecurity,” and uses the National Enquirer to “smear” political opponents. Trump returned the compliment, calling Cruz “increasingly unhinged.”
“The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, at a level I don’t think this country has ever seen,” Cruz warned voters in the state. Digging deep for the worst insult he could hurl at the GOP frontrunner, Cruz said, “Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, ‘Dude, what’s your problem?’.”