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.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday after failing to top Donald Trump in the Indiana Republican primary.
“From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz told supporters at an election night rally in Indianapolis. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.”
A surprised crowd gasped and booed as Cruz made the announcement.
“Together we left it all on the field in Indiana,” Cruz said. “We gave it everything we got. But the voters chose another path.”
NBC News projects Cruz will finish second in the Hoosier State, well behind Trump in a state that was crucial for Cruz to win in order to prevent Trump from gaining the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the presidential nomination.
Trump’s commanding victory is projected to deliver him well over 40 delegates, making it unlikely the front runner fails in getting a majority of the delegates.
In the final weeks of his campaign, Cruz made a number of unconventional moves in the hopes of bolstering a campaign that was running well behind Trump in the polls. He and Ohio Gov. John Kasich entered into an informal pact, each announcing they would not compete in states where the other was running closer to Trump.