Donald Trump Calls Ted Cruz 'One Hell of a Competitor'

Image: Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump,
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is joined by his wife Melania, right, daughter Ivanka, left, as he speaks during a primary night news conference, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Mary Altaffer / AP

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By Andrew Rafferty

Hoping to bring a close to an increasing personal and vicious feud with Ted Cruz, Donald Trump on Tuesday called the Texas senator a “hell of a competitor” with a bright future after he announced he would suspend his White House bid.

“Just so you understand, Ted Cruz, I don’t know if he likes me or he doesn’t like me, but he is one hell of a competitor,” Trump said while declaring victory in the Indiana primary from Trump Tower. “He is a tough, smart guy.”

Trump skated to victory in the Hoosier State, delivering a major blow to Cruz’s hopes of preventing the front-runner from achieving the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Though Ohio Gov. John Kasich has vowed to remain in the race, Trump now has a clear path to the nomination. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus tweeted that Trump has become the presumptive nominee.

Cruz and Trump formed an informal alliance in the fall of last year before the Texas senator rivaled Trump atop the polls. But as it became clear Trump and Cruz would be duking it out for the top spot in a number of nominating contests, the two became entangled in an increasingly personal and stinging feud.

Cruz called Trump "a serial philanderer" Tuesday morning after the front-runner repeated a tabloid story linking his father to President John F. Kennedy's assasination.

But while declaring victory Tuesday night, Trump turned his focus to his increasingly likely general election showdown with Hillary Clinton, and declined to use Kasich’s name while thanking Priebus.

“He had 17 egos and now I guess he's down to one,” Trump said of the RNC head. “I don't know, is there a second. I mean, is there a second. I don’t know. Gonna have to ask you folks to explain the status of that.”