Donald Trump won the Republican primary in Indiana on Tuesday, a resounding victory that sets him up to be the likely Republican nominee.
Rival Ted Cruz announced later in the evening that he was dropping out of the race, removing Trump’s most formidable foe.
Speaking to supporters, Trump said he didn’t know whether Cruz liked him or not but called him “one tough competitor.” Just hours earlier, when Cruz was still in the race, they were trading insults.
“This has been an amazing evening. I didn’t expect this,” Trump said, as he called for party unity.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders was the projected winner in Indiana oveHillary Clinton, a surprise as she had held a slight lead in recent polls.
Trump is now the favorite to win the GOP nomination, a notion unthinkable to many in the GOP establishment a year ago when his potential presidential bid was regarded as a lark or publicity stunt. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said in a tweet that Trump was the “presumptive nominee” and that the party should unite behind him.
Cruz could no longer amass a majority of the delegates by the time of the Republican National Convention in July, and Trump’s string of victories raised doubts that he could deny Trump a majority by that point.
“Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana,” Trump tweeted shortly after the race was called. “If he doesn’t he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money.”
The Hoosier State had once been considered a state favorable to Cruz, and even he had seen it as a firewall to Trump’s wins in the northeast. But an alliance that the Texas senator made with John Kasich unraveled, and Cruz’s announcement that Carly Fiorina would be his running mate hasn’t changed the dynamics of the race.
Clinton has tried to turn her attention to the general election, but Sanders has been bolstered by a hefty fundraising network of small donors. Even though the amount that he raised fell in April, it was still almost $26 million, nearly the same amount that Clinton raised for the primary.
Clinton will be in California on Thursday for a campaign event and fundraising, as attention shifts to the June 7 primary in the Golden State.