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With Cruz Out Of The GOP Race, Will His Supporters Back Trump?

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It was a decisive loss, and Ted Cruz knew it. So after it became clear Donald Trump had won the primary last night in Indiana, Ted Cruz announced that he was dropping out. He told his supporters the loss, quote, "foreclosed his path to the nomination, and there was no way forward."

With us now is Ron Johnson. He's the head of the Indiana Pastors Alliance and a Ted Cruz supporter. He's on the line from Crown Point, Ind. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

RON JOHNSON: Oh, you're welcome. Thank you for having me on the show.

MARTIN: You came out early to back Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination. He was your guy from early on. How surprised were you that he pulled out last night?

JOHNSON: Well, I wasn't surprised that he pulled out. But I, as a Hoosier, I was incredibly surprised that at this historic moment in the campaign and really a historic moment for the Republican Party that we landed on the choice that we did. That was incredibly disappointing for me.

MARTIN: Why do you think it happened? Why didn't Cruz connect in the way that you hoped he would with Indiana voters?

JOHNSON: Well, I think everybody was feeling the same thing as far as the fact that our party in Washington has not been in touch with us. Many people express the sentiment of feeling betrayed by the party. And I know the social conservatives that I run with, we definitely feel that way as well. But I think when we came down to what the solution was, many people believe that Mr. Trump is somehow a Washington outsider while Mr. Cruz is an insider.

And that to me is what I can't understand because we saw a very clear track record with Senator Cruz as an elected official where he consistently stood for my values and, I believe, Hoosier values and even stood against his own party in Washington, D.C. So I felt like the clear solution was Ted Cruz and that the unknown, you know, quote, "insider" was Donald Trump, who in our opinion really isn't an insider or an outsider at all. He's somebody who has personally funded most of the Democrats and their agenda. So it just doesn't make sense, the solution we came up with here in this state.

MARTIN: Let me ask you. Exit polling in Indiana last night showed that 50 percent of voters who described themselves as born-again Christian or an evangelical Christian, those people chose Trump. Forty-three percent of evangelicals chose Cruz, which is really surprising. This was supposed to be Ted Cruz's wheelhouse. These were his people. What - what didn't work?

JOHNSON: Yeah, and again I think we're using labels first of all, then I think we've lost the meaning of these labels because...

MARTIN: But labels like evangelical Christian, are you saying it...

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

MARTIN: ...It's changed what that means?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. Absolutely because here's the scenario. We have always been first of all loyal not party but to a person, to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the word of God and to candidates who embody the values that we share. You know, when you look at this election cycle, there are three things that for us were non-negotiables or at least have been non-negotiables.

Number one has been the sanctity of human life. We have a situation where we now have a choice between Donald Trump, who is not pro-life, or Ted Cruz, who is pro-life. We have a scenario too where we have always believed in the sacredness of marriage as an institution between a man and woman. That has...

MARTIN: And Donald Trump has run counter to some of those positions. We only have a few seconds left.

JOHNSON: OK.

MARTIN: Who will you vote for in November?

JOHNSON: Well, this was the point I was leading to. These are non-negotiable points for believers. And so we're left in a very untenable situation where, if we're looking at Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump as our choices, I can't in good conscience offer my vote for either.

MARTIN: Ron Johnson, senior pastor in Crown Point, Ind, thanks so much.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.