May 3, 2016 7:09 PM by News Staff
Donald Trump will win the Indiana Republican presidential primary, NBC News projects, crushing the hopes of GOP foes who waged a frantic campaign to halt his march to the party's nomination.
The win sets Trump on a likely path to secure the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure his party's nomination before the convention in Cleveland this summer. Barring a catastrophic collapse in upcoming primary states, Trump is poised to clear the decisive threshold that rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich pledged to block from his reach.
The Indiana contest between the Democrats remains too early to call.
But frontrunner Hillary Clinton leads rival Bernie Sanders by a significant number of total votes and delegates nationwide, and the results of Indiana's primary are not expected to change her path to the Democratic nomination. Sanders has pledged to compete until the final primary contests in June.
Trump's victory in Indiana is particularly stinging for Cruz, who employed a series of unorthodox campaign tactics in a last-minute effort to derail Trump's chances in the Midwestern state.
Together, pro-Cruz and anti-Trump forces spent more than $6 million on television advertising in the Hoosier State in the effort to stall Trump's march towards the Republican nomination. Cruz and Kasich announced an alliance last month to maximize opposition to Trump in remaining primary states, a strategy which backfired badly among Republican voters skeptical of a plan that Trump branded as "collusion."
Then, in an unusual move, Cruz announced that former HP chief Carly Fiorina would be his running mate if he captures the GOP nod — despite being mathematically eliminated from getting a majority of Republican delegates at all.
And in a fiery press conference Tuesday, a visibly upset Cruz derided Trump as "a pathological liar," a "narcissist" and a "serial philanderer" whose electoral success to date has led the country "staring at the abyss."
"Donald Trump laughs at the people of this state, laughs, bullies, attacks, insults," he said in remarks responding to Trump's unsubstantiated theory that Cruz's father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "I don't believe that's America."
On the Democratic side, Clinton has engaged less with her primary rival in recent weeks, instead choosing to focus on her likely clash with Trump in the fall.
Asked about her chances in the state, Clinton told NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that her campaign "ran hard" in Indiana but quickly added "I'm really focused on moving into the general election."
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