Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended his presidential campaign in a reflective statement in his home state on Wednesday, calling on Americans to “live a life bigger than ourselves.”
“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 told a room filled with supporters and media in Columbus.
Kasich and top campaign aides were aboard a plane ready to head to Virginia to address media Wednesday morning, but the plane never got off the ground. The governor instead stayed in Ohio and made the decision to suspend his 2016 campaign.
In his statement, Kasich said "the people of our country changed me," and urged Americans to "slow down and listen to each other."
The decision comes one day after Kasich finished a distant third in the Indiana primary. Top campaign aides had vowed that the governor would stay in the race, even after Ted Cruz, who formed an informal alliance with Kasich, suspended his campaign.
Kasich will end his run with just one primary victory, which came in his home state of Ohio. He remained in the race long after he was mathematically eliminated from clinching the GOP nomination, arguing that no candidate will earn a majoirity of the delegates ahead of the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, this summer.
But Donald Trump’s commanding win in Indiana on Tuesday made stopping the front-runner nearly impossible. Party leaders like Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus called Trump the “presumptive nominee” even with Kasich still in the race.
Though Kasich suspends his campaign as one of the final two remaining GOP candidates, he currently sits fourth in total delegates earned, trailing Trump, Cruz and Marco Rubio -- who suspended his campaign March 15.
Kasich campaigned on a message of positivity, largely trying to stay away from the personal attacks that have defined the tumultuous Republican primary. The former congressman earned a number of high-profile endorsements, and voters on the campaign trail frequently thanked him for delivering an optimistic message. In addition to his Ohio victory, he earned a surprisingly strong second-place finish in New Hampshire, where he soundly beat better known rivals like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
“People really counted me out in New Hampshire...I will never forget the people of New Hampshire,” Kasich said Wednesday.
In the final weeks of their campaigns, Kasich and Cruz entered into an informal alliance. Each focused their campaigns’ efforts on nominating contests where they had the best shot at defeating Trump. But the agreement proved ineffective in the Hoosier State, where Trump easily rolled to victory even though Kasich did not compete in the state. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll showed the pact was largely unpopular among GOP primary voters.
The governor justified his continuation in the race by arguing he is the best Republican to defeat the Democratic nominee in a general election. Out of the final three remaining candidates, Kasich was the only one who consistently beat Hillary Clinton in one-on-one polling.
"You win a primary, you lose the general, what's the point?” Kasich said last month at an MSNBC town hall. “What do you hang a certificate on your wall? ...I'm the only one who consistently beats Hillary."