Donald Trump delivered a devastating blow to rival Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, easily winning Indiana’s Republican Primary and moving him closer to clinching the GOP presidential nomination.
Fox News projects Trump overwhelmingly beat Cruz in the Hoosier state’s primary.
With 37 percent of precincts reporting, Trump has 53.5 percent of the vote. Tuesday’s victory significantly improves Trump’s chances of amassing the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican presidential nomination this summer in Cleveland.
On the Democratic side, the contest between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared ready to go down to the wire.
With just nine states remaining in the nominating process, the stop-Trump wing of the Republican Party appears to be rapidly running out of options.
Tuesday’s primary capped off a bitter and personal clash between Trump and Cruz with both accusing the other of being an unhinged liar.
As soon as the race was called, Trump demanded Cruz exit the primary race, tweeting that ““Lyin’ Ted” should “stop wasting time & money.”
Earlier in the day, Trump rehashed claims on Fox News that Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, appeared in a 1963 photograph with John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald — citing a report first published by the National Enquirer.
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot,” Trump said on Fox & Friends. “Nobody even brings it up; I mean they don’t even talk about that.”
Responding, Cruz called his father his “hero,” and labeled Trump an “amoral” liar. He also described Trump as a “braggadocious, arrogant buffoon.”
Cruz went into the Indiana primary vowing to fight on even if he lost. However, the delegate math isn’t on his side.
Prior to Tuesday’s contest, The Associated Press had Trump leading the delegate count at 996, Cruz in second with 565 delegates and Kasich with 153. To secure the Republican nomination, a candidate must have 1,237 delegates going into the national convention in July.
Though Trump cannot clinch the nomination with a big win in Indiana, his path toward securing the delegates he needs gets much easier. A Hoosier State win also gives Team Trump more wiggle room in the campaign’s final contests.
Trump has devoted more time to campaigning in Indiana than he has to most other states, underscoring his eagerness to put his Republican rivals away and shift his attention to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Indiana emerged as a must-win state for Cruz and the “Stop Trump” movement to block Trump from locking up the Republican nomination.
In an attempt to stack the odds, Cruz and Kasich recently announced an alliance to deny the billionaire businessman the delegates he needs to win.
Cruz and Kasich agreed to cede upcoming primary contests to one another. Kasich would stand down in Indiana while Cruz would do the same in Oregon and New Mexico, which hold their primaries May 17 and June 7.
Cracks in communication about the tactical team-up were visible almost immediately. When Kasich was asked about the deal’s message on April 25 and what his Indiana supporters should do he said, “I’ve never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me.”
Cruz also tried to reenergize his campaign by naming former businesswoman Carly Fiorina as his running mate. He rounded out the week with an endorsement from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
Like Trump, Cruz knows how critical Indiana is to keeping his hopes alive for the GOP bid – and his campaign has worked hard to recreate his prior Midwestern wins.
The Texan travelled across the state on a tour bus and has spent most of his time reaching out to large groups of politically engaged evangelical Christians – a demographic he dominates.
While barnstorming Indiana, Cruz also sharpened his opposition to transgender rights for Americans and has publically attacked both Trump and Clinton for supporting North Carolina’s controversial new anti-LGBT law.
According to the Associated Press delegate count, Clinton went into Tuesday’s contest with a commanding lead over Sanders. Clinton has 2,165 delegates compared to Sanders’ 1,357. A Democratic candidate needs 2,383 delegates to shore up the party’s nomination.
So far, Clinton has secured 91 percent of the delegates she needs to win the nomination. That means, even if she loses every single remaining primary, she can still win the nomination.
Neither Clinton nor Sanders spent Tuesday in Indiana. Sanders made stops in Kentucky while Clinton focused on West Virginia and Ohio, a key general election battleground.