Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, abruptly suspending his Republican presidential campaign Tuesday night after another crushing primary defeat to Donald Trump, assured emotional supporters in Indiana that they helped grow an “extraordinary” movement – declaring his team “left it all on the field” in their final push.
"It appears that path [to victory] has been foreclosed," Cruz told supporters in Indianapolis. "Together, we left it all on the field of Indiana. We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path, and so with a heavy heart but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of our nation, we are suspending our campaign."
The underdog candidate, who all along had vowed to force Trump into a contested convention in July, stunned supporters by dropping out following a big loss in Indiana. Some people in the crowd could be seen crying and hugging each other.
But Cruz indicated he has no plans to fade away.
“I am not suspending our fight for liberty,” Cruz said.
Cruz thanked the thousands of volunteers and contributors who “saw a movement grow.”
“Many of those volunteers, many of those contributions you never forget,” Cruz said. “Just a few days ago, two young kids ages 4 and 6 handed me two envelopes full of change. They wanted the campaign to have it. That’s what built this campaign. That’s what fueled this movement.”
In addition, Cruz thanked his wife, two daughters and Carly Fiorina, who he called a "phenomenal running-mate."
"What you have done, the movement that you have started is extraordinary. I love each and every one of you."
Had he succeeded in his quest, Cruz would have been the first U.S. president of Hispanic descent, although he often downplayed his heritage on the campaign trail, instead, touting the need for tougher immigration laws, for a border wall along the border with Mexico, protecting gun rights, repealing President Obama's health care law and instituting a flat tax.
Cruz argued he was the only true conservative in the race, building on his reputation in the Senate where he clashed both with Democrats and members of his own party over his ideological stubbornness. Cruz railed against what he called the "Washington cartel," trying to appeal to an electorate that is craving political outsiders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.