(CNN) – Ted Cruz bowed out of the Republican presidential race Tuesday following a crushing loss to Donald Trump in Indiana, clearing the path for the real estate mogul to clinch the GOP nomination.
It was a remarkable turn of events in a presidential primary race that seemed destined — just weeks ago — to end in a contested convention this summer. Even in the final hours of the race in the Hoosier State, Cruz insisted he was staying in the race until June 7 — going so far as to attack his rival during a news conference as a “pathological liar” unfit for the White House.
In the end, the growing strength of Trump’s candidacy and Cruz’s own stumbles in the past two weeks were too much for Cruz to overcome. The Cruz, Kasich and anti-Trump forces had concocted elaborate plans to try to deprive Trump of the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. But those plans hinged on money and momentum. After Tuesday night, it appeared that Cruz would have neither.
“We left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got but the voters chose another path,” Cruz said. “So with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”
Cruz, a tea party favorite, had hoped to cobble together a winning coalition by consolidating the evangelical and libertarian wings of the Republican Party while also racking up commanding wins in the South. He was ultimately unable to achieve any of those things. Exit polls on Tuesday night showed that Indiana’s evangelical voters split their votes evenly between Trump and Cruz. The Texas senator had the edge among late deciders, who made up a quarter of voters, but it wasn’t enough.
He signaled that he was nearing the end Tuesday during an appearance on Dana Loesch’s radio show, stating that his campaign had “left it all on the field.”
“We are competing to the end as long as we have a viable path to victory,” he said. “We are competing hard in this state and I am hopeful and optimistic. But at this point, it’s in the hands of voters.”