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Ted Cruz drops out of presidential race after Indiana loss

Departure of the last Southerner in the White House contest hands nomination to Donald Trump

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

southern-states-lgINDIANAPOLIS (CFP) — After a crushing loss to Donald Trump in the Indiana primary, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, ending a 13-month quest for the nation’s highest office.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz

“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed,” Cruz told incredulous supporters in Indianapolis after the May 3 vote. “Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana. We gave it everything we’ve got, but the voters chose another path.”

Spectators in the audience shouted “No!” as it became clear that Cruz would bow out of the race.

Cruz was the last of the 10 Southerners still in the presidential contest, a field that one point included nine Republicans and one Democrat from the region. His departure came after losing to Trump by 16 points in Indiana and getting shut out in the hunt for delegates.

Trump’s win in the Hoosier State extinguished any hope of denying him a majority of the delegates to this summer’s Republican National Convention.

Cruz, 45, is in his first term representing the Lone Star State. He ran for president hoping to harness the support of religious conservatives and Tea Party forces that had carried him to the Senate.

Cruz won the first presidential contest, narrowly defeating Trump in Iowa. However, Cruz struggled to find traction with his base in the face of the Trump phenomenon. That was particularly true in the South, an evangelical-heavy region where he won just two states, Texas and Oklahoma.

As the field began to dwindle, Cruz tried to position himself as the alternative to stop Trump, which worked in early April with a victory in Wisconsin. But then Trump rolled through New York and several Northeastern states, giving him a delegate lead that became insurmountable after Cruz’s loss in Indiana.

Cruz was not helped by his deep unpopularity with his colleagues in Congress, one of whom, former House Speaker John Boehner, described him as “Lucifer in the flesh.” But Cruz wore their opprobrium as a badge of honor, saying it proved he was a genuine outsider.

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