Donald Trump all but ended the Republican race for the presidential nomination, crushing his opponents Ted Cruz, who dropped out, and the “Never Trump” movement, in Indiana.
“We are going after Hillary Clinton,” Trump declared in his victory speech with an eye on the general election. But the Democratic front-runner lost her primary in the same state.
Her defeat is unlikely to alter the course of the Democratic race much, though Bernie Sanders is talking more and more about taking the fight right to the party convention in July.
But the Republican race changed dramatically on Tuesday night.
For one, Cruz, the Texas senator who had come to spearhead the “Never Trump” movement, left the race saying he did all he could in Indiana but doesn’t see a path to nomination.
Two, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, declared Trump the “presumptive nominee” in a tweet, making it nearly official, but not official yet.
John Kasich, the third candidate in the Republican race, is staying, but there was no word on how long. He has absolutely no chance of acquiring the nomination.
With the Indiana win, Trump’s tally of delegates climbed to 1,047, only 190 short now of the 1,237 required to win the ticket. Cruz was at 565 and Kasich at 153.
In the Democratic race, Clinton was at 2,201, just 182 short of their threshold 2,383. And Sanders is at 1,399, with no realistic chance of overtaking the frontrunner.
Addressing supporters at his headquarters in Trump Tower, New York, Trump tried to sound reconciliatory and eager to unite the party behind him for the general elections, as he has said he will.
The real-estate mogul called Cruz “one hell of a competitor” with a great future, and cited “Heidi (Cruz’s wife), his whole beautiful family.” No “Lyin’ Ted” or other such insults.
Earlier in the day, Trump tried to link Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F Kennedy, citing a report in National Enquirer, a tabloid that has been harsh to the senator.
It had recently published a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who killed Kennedy, with a bunch of men, one of whom, the tabloid said, was Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, a Cuban-American.
But Trump spoke differently in the evening. He was generous in his praise of the senator, who came closest to stopping him, waging an aggressive and expensive do-or-die battle in Indiana, but failed.
“Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz said ending his campaign. “Together we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it all we got.”