Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Friday backed Ted Cruz for president, days ahead of the state’s vital Republican primary contest.
The Republican governor announced his choice in an interview on WIBC radio. He prefaced his announcement by saying he likes and respects – and has met with – all three of the Republican presidential candidates.
“I’m not against anybody but I will be voting for Ted Cruz,” Pence said. “I see Ted Cruz as a principled conservative who’s dedicated his career to advocating the Reagan agenda.”
The announcement is a setback for Trump, who has been barnstorming Indiana – with famed Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight by his side – trying to rally voters ahead of Tuesday’s election and sideline Cruz for good.
Cruz is desperately seeking momentum in his fight to block Trump from claiming the delegate majority before the GOP's national convention in July.
Trump swept all five Northeastern primary elections earlier in the week and enjoys a massive delegate advantage over his Republican rivals. Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from earning the 1,237 delegate majority, but insists he can block Trump from the majority as well, as the 2016 contest shifts to "friendlier terrain" in the West and Midwest. The Texas senator declared he is "all in" on Indiana.
Cruz said earlier Friday he would "enthusiastically welcome" Pence's support.
Pence, who faces his own re-election this year, had been under enormous pressure from pro- and anti-Trump factions. Although he is more closely aligned with Cruz, he risks voter backlash in the fall if Tuesday's primary contest shows Indiana is filled with Trump voters.
Pence, though, made sure to praise Trump during his remarks Friday. He commended Trump for giving “voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”
Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.