Donald Trump is the apparent GOP presidential nominee after his two remaining rivals ended their White House bids.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will suspend his presidential campaign at a 5 p.m. press conference Wednesday in Ohio, campaign sources tell NPR. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the race Tuesday night after a disappointing loss in Indiana.
The rapid moves in the past 24 hours bring to a close a wild GOP primary season that leaves the one-time unlikely real estate mogul as the party’s presumptive nominee.
Trump inherits a deeply fractured Republican Party and has many challenges in uniting his former rivals and opponents behind his controversial candidacy. #NeverTrump forces poured millions of dollars in ads in Indiana as a last-ditch effort to stop him, an aim that would be for naught.
Many Republicans have recently reiterated that if Trump was the GOP nominee, they wouldn’t vote for him. Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted Tuesday night that his earlier statement that he would never support Trump stands. Mark Salter, a long time top adviser on 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, said Tuesday he would be voting for likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump.
Even before Tuesday, both Cruz and Kasich had already been mathematically eliminated from getting the 1,237 requisite delegates to stop Trump on the first ballot at a GOP convention. Instead, their only hope was denying Trump a majority of delegates as well and hoping that GOP delegates would switch allegiances to their camps in a multiple ballot scenario.
For the past month and a half, Cruz and Kasich remained in the race as alternatives to Trump even though their chances remained daunting. Kasich only won one state — his home of Ohio — back on March 15 and hadn’t amassed many delegates since then. In fact, he ends fourth in the delegate race behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign nearly two months ago.
Kasich’s campaign remained resolute though, believing that at a contested GOP convention in Cleveland this summer that party stalwarts would eventually turn toward the moderate governor of a crucial swing state. Even on Tuesday night as Cruz announced his exit, Kasich’s team signaled that they would remain in the race. By Wednesday morning though, they seemed to have finally accepted the harsh reality. While he was on his plane flying to D.C. for a news conference at Dulles Airport in Virginia, he had a change of heart and decided to turn the plane around head back to Ohio, where his White House bid will officially come to an head.
Cruz had been Trump’s closest competitor. The Texas senator — who was no favorite of party stalwarts either — did outmaneuver Trump at many state-level delegate races, hoping to gain the upper-hand at the GOP convention. Ultimately, he won the most votes or delegates in 11 states and netted more than 7 million votes.
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.