U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas suspended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination today, after Donald Trump cruised to victory in the Indiana primary.
Cruz, widely known for his anti-LGBT stances, told supporters in Indianapolis that he was dropping out "with a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism for the long-term future." They reacted with shouts of "no, no."
He thanked former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who became his running mate just a few days ago, and his family, including his father, Rafael Cruz, "who has traveled this nation preaching the gospel." The elder Cruz, who has also traveled the nation campaigning for his son and has been an even more vocal opponent of LGBT rights.
"From the beginning, I've said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory," Ted Cruz told the crowd. "Tonight, I am sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed."
"Together, we left it all on the field in Indiana," he continued. "We gave it everything we got. But the voters chose another path."
But Cruz remains in the Senate, to which he was elected in 2012, and won't abandon his fight for conservative causes.
"I am not suspending our fight for liberty," he told supporters. "I am not suspending our fight to defend the Constitution, to defend the Judeo-Christian values that built America. ... I give you my word that I will continue this fight with all of my strength and all of my ability."
With 93 percent of precincts reporting at 10 p.m. local time, Trump had received 53 percent of the vote in Indiana, Cruz 37 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich 8 percent, according to the Associated Press. Both AP and NBC News called the race for Trump shortly after polls closed at 6 p.m. in the state.
While Trump is still short of the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination, he is definitely on his way. The real estate developer and former reality TV host has claimed 51 of Indiana's 57 delegates so far, AP reports. The state has 30 delegates awarded statewide, on a winner-take-all basis, and 27 by congressional district, with each district also winner-take-all. This brings Trump's delegate total to 1,047. Cruz remains at 565 and Kasich at 153.
Trump, who has exchanged insults with Cruz throughout the campaign, struck a different note in his victory speech.
"He is one tough competitor," Trump said of Cruz. "He is a smart. tough guy."
He quickly turned to denouncing Hillary Clinton, who he will likely face in the general election. He said she would be a "poor president" and that she "doesn't understand trade."
The other remaining Republican competitor, Kasich, said he has no intention of quitting the race, CNN reports. "Tonight's results are not going to alter Gov. Kasich's campaign plans," his chief strategist, John Weaver, told the network. "Our strategy has been and continues to be one that involves winning the nomination at an open convention."
But that doesn't sit well with party leaders. In the wake of Cruz's withdrawal, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus sent this tweet:
The Human Rights Campaign called the failure of Cruz's campaign an indication that voters have rejected his anti-LGBT ideas, especially the transphobic rhetoric in which he has engaged recently.
"Ted Cruz has waged an ugly, bigoted campaign against LGBT equality for months. Cruz will be remembered for spending the last days of his presidential campaign shamefully trying to stoke a dangerous brand of hate against transgender people like me to score political points," HRC communications director Jay Brown said in an online statement. "Ted Cruz's false attack ads and repeated smears against us in the closing days of his campaign were clearly rejected by voters. There's a lesson here -- Americans of all parties believe LGBT people should be protected from discrimination and politicians who don't take note risk being rejected at the ballot box."
But the HRC also emphasized that a Trump presidency would not be good for LGBT Americans. Trump has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would roll back marriage equality, support a national "religious liberty" law that would allow anti-LGBT discrimination, and repeal President Obama's executive orders banning discrimination against LGBT federal employees and contractors. Trump once criticized anti-trans laws like North Carolina's House Bill 2, then backtracked and said cities and states should be allowed to enact such laws.
Below, watch Cruz's concession speech and Trump's victory speech.