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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence 'pleased' to endorse Ted Cruz

By Eric DuVall
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence 'pleased' to endorse Ted Cruz
Indiana Governor Mike Pence speaks at the Republican Governors Association meeting in 2014. Pence endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president on Friday, five days before the crucial Indiana primary. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS, April 29 (UPI) -- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, calling him a "principled conservative" five days before the Hoosier State holds what is increasingly looking like a do-or-die primary for Cruz.

Indiana votes on Tuesday and is a winner-take-all state, meaning a victory there is crucial for Cruz to continue his quest to keep front-runner Donald Trump from obtaining the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination. If Trump is victorious in Indiana -- and polls show he is leading by an average of 5 points -- it will be all but impossible for Cruz to prevent Trump from winning the nomination over the final 13 contests.

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The most recent poll in the state shows Trump up by 9 points.

"I'm not against anyone but I will be voting for Ted Cruz," Pence said. "I view him as a principled conservative ... I'm pleased to support him."

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Despite the gravity of the situation for establishment Republicans looking to block Trump from becoming their standard-bearer, the state's GOP leadership has been thus far slow to back Cruz. Pence's endorsement may help grease the skids for a last-minute effort to hand Cruz the victory.

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Pence also faces his own political calculations. He is running for re-election this year and, like other Republicans fearful Trump would be a drag on the national ticket, was forced to decide whether openly helping someone other than the party's front-runner was in his own political interest.

Even in making the Cruz endorsement, Pence appeared hesitant to offend Trump.

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"I particularly want to commend Donald Trump ... I'm grateful for his voice in the national debate," Pence said of the GOP front-runner.

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