Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended his presidential campaign Wednesday, ensuring that billionaire Donald Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee.
“I have always said that the Lord has a purpose for me as he has for everyone 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,” Kasich said in evening speech in Columbus, Ohio.
News broke earlier on Wednesday that the Ohio governor would end his presidential bid, after his campaign abruptly rescheduled a morning press conference outside Washington.
[Related: Kasich to Suspend GOP Campaign, Reports say]
Kasich’s announcement came less than 24 hours after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race, and now leaves billionaire Donald Trump as the last candidate standing in a nearly year-long GOP primary campaign that began with 17 presidential hopefuls.
Cruz and Kasich had struck a deal last month to divvy up the remaining states in an effort to block Trump from garnering the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the GOP nomination outright, but both camps backed away from that within hours of it being announced.
Kasich had only won his home state of Ohio, and was a distant third in delegates won behind Trump and Cruz. He even trailed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the delegate count, who had dropped out in March.
Kasich said he was heartened by touching moments on the campaign trail like when a young man in South Carolina whose close friend had recently committed suicide asked him for a hug.
“The people of our country changed me,” an emotional Kasich said Wednesday. “They changed me with the stories of our lives.”
“The spirt, the essence of America, lies in the hearts and souls of us,” he added. “Some missed this message. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t a great soundbite … I believe we all need to live a life a little bit bigger than ourselves.”
In an interview on CNN , Trump said he would be interested in vetting Kasich as a potential running mate, telling the network, “I’ve had a good relationship with John. I think John will be very helpful with Ohio.”
After Kasich’s announcement, fellow Ohio Republican Rob Portman said he was “proud” to have supported his home state colleague and praised his record as governor.
“Today, families in Ohio have more hope and opportunity thanks to John’s leadership, and I believe he would lift up our nation as president. I know he will continue to make progress in Ohio as our governor. I look forward to continuing to be his partner in the U.S. Senate in creating more and better jobs for Ohio,” Portman said in a statement.
Portman’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, confirmed that the senator “intends to support the Republican nominee” in the general election.
Kasich is currently in his second term as governor of Ohio, a key swing state in presidential elections. He was first elected in 2010, after serving nearly 20 years in the House.
Throughout the campaign, Kasich has insisted that he was the only candidate with the experience and conservative credentials necessary to be his party’s nominee. On Wednesday night, he did not address Trump or uniting the party, but took the opportunity to discuss what he had learned throughout his campaign.
“We just got up every day and did the best we can,” Kasich said.
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