By Phil Mattingly, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Sara Murray, David Mark and Tom LoBianco, CNN
(CNN)John Kasich is dropping out of the Republican presidential race, he said Wednesday.
Kasich’s decision to suspend his efforts came after he improbably became the last challenger to Donald Trump, who emerged as the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday night when Ted Cruz dropped out.
“I have always said that the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone,” Kasich told reporters in Columbus, Ohio. “And as I suspend my campaign today, I have renewed faith, deeper faith, that the Lord will show me the way forward, and fulfill the purpose of my life.”
Even before winning his home state of Ohio in March, Kasich was facing pressure to get out of the race, with no clear path to victory. His campaign never became more than a spoiler run, designed to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination before a contested convention.
But he was not yet ready to quit. Kasich had fundraisers scheduled in the Washington area Wednesday, and was on a plane at the Columbus airport when he had a change of heart.
After having the plane taxi back from the runway, according to one source close to Kasich, he then called four of his closest friends, and said, “My heart is not in this.” The source said that his friends then told Kasich that if his heart is not in it, he ought to do what he needs to do.
Kasich was always a somewhat offbeat Republican contender, who laughed at himself on the trail, occasionally took positions more in line with Democrats (like expanding Medicaid in Ohio) and touted his ability to work across the aisle. He sometimes even joked that he would have done better in the Democratic primaries than in the crowded Republican field.