Republican John Kasich, the last rival for front-runner Donald Trump, has announced the end of his presidential bid. His departure effectively clears the way for Trump's path to the GOP nomination.
Donald Trump, a real estate tycoon and realty TV star, came a step closer to becoming the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee on Wednesday after his last remaining rival for the nomination abandoned the race.
Ohio Governor John Kasich announced the end of his campaign in a statement on Wednesday afternoon from his home state, pulling the plug on his long-shot candidacy.
Even before word spread that Kasich was dropping out, Trump had already begun to pivot towards the general election campaign.
"I am confident I can unite much of" the GOP, Trump said Wednesday on NBC's "Today Show," as several prominent Republicans said they'd prefer Democrat Hillary Clinton over the TV celebrity.
In a shot at his critics, Trump added: "Those people can go away and maybe come back in eight years after we served two terms. Honestly, there are some people I really don't want."
An offensive candidate?
The bombastic billionaire has offended or alienated many, including those in his own party, for denigrating women, Latinos and Muslims.
But that possibility evaporated Tuesday night when Trump won a convincing victory in the largely conservative Midwestern state of Indiana, making it all but certain that he would collect the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination during the nine remaining primaries.
With some 435 delegates still to be claimed, Trump needs to win only 190 to clinch the nomination.
The New York real estate mogul won 53.3 percent of the vote in Indiana, trouncing Senator Ted Cruz's 36.6 percent and Kasich's 7.6 percent, according to unofficial results. Cruz’s dismal showing compelled him to abort his campaign earlier Wednesday.
With no clear obstacles standing between Trump and the GOP's formal nomination this summer some party stalwarts, who refuse to support Trump, are exploring the possibility of a third party candidate for November. So far, no names have been put forward.
As a current governor and former US congressman Kasich brought considerable political experience to the campaign, but he struggled throughout to connect with conservative voters in a year when many are hankering for an anti-establishment candidate.
bik/sms (AP, Reuters)