INDIANAPOLIS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his presidential campaign Tuesday, eliminating the biggest impediment to Donald Trump’s march to the Republican nomination.
The conservative tea party firebrand who tried to cast himself as the only viable alternative to Trump ended his campaign after a stinging defeat in Indiana’s Republican primary.
“It appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz told supporters in Indianapolis. “Together, we left it all on the field of Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got, but the voters chose another path, and so with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign.”
Had he succeeded in his quest, Cruz would have been the first U.S. president of Hispanic descent, although he often downplayed his heritage on the campaign trail, instead, touting the need for tougher immigration laws, for a border wall along the border with Mexico, protecting gun rights, repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law and instituting a flat tax.
Ken Emanuelson of Dallas says he’s not just a supporter of Ted Cruz, but a friend as well.
He says he is disappointed the Texas Senator dropped out of the race.
“When you support somebody, you’ve got a lot of emotional investment on seeing that happen and so I was disappointed as a lot of us were. But also pride. I can speak for myself. I am proud of the race that he ran,” said Emanuelson.
Emanuelson says Cruz lasted longer in the race than many analysts initially predicted.
He says Cruz gave voice to constitutional conservatism.
“Both as friend of Ted’s and as a supporter of Ted’s but also as a constitutional conservative myself, I was glad to see that out there. You’re just disappointed to see that message will not be part of the debate as much.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted Tuesday night that Trump is the presumptive nominee and that it’s time to unite the party and focus on beating the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
The former Secretary of State is ahead of Trump in many general election polls so far.
SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson says in order to win, Trump needs to improve his standing among women and minority voters.
“Trump’s formula for victory has to be running up impressively high margins among white men and then getting just enough of the vote from women and minorities to get over that 50% threshold. That’s a really fine needle to thread. I think it’s going to be tough for him to do,” said Wilson.
Cruz argued he was the only true conservative in the race, building on his reputation in the Senate where he clashed both with Democrats and members of his own party over his ideological stubbornness. Cruz railed against what he called the “Washington cartel,” trying to appeal to an electorate that is craving political outsiders.
But he ultimately couldn’t compete with Trump’s appeal among white, working class voters who were drawn to the billionaire’s outlandish approach to politics.
Cruz’s campaign placed its hopes on a data-driven effort to turn out conservative evangelical Christians who had opted out of recent presidential elections. Increasingly, he would modify his travel schedule to go where data showed there might be pockets of untapped supporters.
With the scale tipping increasingly in Trump’s favor, he announced an extraordinary pact in April with his other rival, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in which the two would divide their time and resources based on states where they were each poised to do better.
Days later, he prematurely named former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina as his running mate, hoping it would woo some of the female voters turned off by Trump’s brash rhetoric.
Trump’s appeal to evangelicals, though, and the New York billionaire’s popularity with the broader Republican electorate, proved too much.
Cruz was joined on stage with his parents, as well as by Fiorina and his wife, Heidi.
He made no mention of the Republican front-runner, vowing instead to continue his fight for liberty and for the Constitution.
Jack Fink contributed to this report.
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