After being throttled in a make or break Indiana primary, Texas' Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican presidential nominating contest, ceding the GOP nod to New York real estate mogul Donald Trump.
"We are suspending our campaign; we left it all on the field in Indiana," Cruz said, managing not to bungle the obvious sports metaphor despite his calling a basketball hoop a basketball ring while campaigning in the Hoosier State last week.
Cruz started the race in the middle of the Republican pack. He easily qualified for the main stage in the initial GOP debates, upping his profile with strong performances befitting his status as a champion college debater at Princeton. Before the turn of the year, he stayed away from Trump and was even complimentary of the front runner.
As the field shrunk and Cruz found less drafting room behind Trump, the duo quickly began sniping at each other. Trump insinuated that Cruz's wife was ugly. Cruz called Trump a "sniveling coward." Trump repeatedly referred to Cruz as "Lyin' Ted." It went on and on over the last six weeks of the campaign. Cruz and John Kasich knew they couldn't win the nomination outright after a growing string of Trump triumphs, but they hoped they could keep him from acquiring the 1,237 delegates necessary for a first ballot nomination at the GOP convention in Cleveland. The Cruz campaign proved its organizational mettle, getting Cruz supporters elected to numerous delegate slots across the country, preparing for a contested convention.
After Trump's resounding victories in the New York primary and across the northeast, Cruz went all in for Indiana. He called on the state to speak for the nation, and the conservative movement, and stop Trump. He made the unorthodox move of naming a running mate — twice-failed candidate Carly Fiorina.
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Tuesday night, hours after Trump insinuated that Cruz's father Rafael might have been involved in the Kennedy assassination, Cruz gave up hope that he'd prevail on a second or third ballot in Cleveland. So did Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Trump, ebullient in victory and in Cruz's defeat, made it clear he'd turned to general election after his win, despite also-ran Kasich's promise to stay in the race.
"We are going after Hillary Clinton," he told a cheering throng at Trump tower.