WASHINGTON;Front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton today fast tracked their race to the White House after posting big wins in a decisive multi-state vote to stay on course for clinching their parties’ presidential nominations.
Trump kept his substantial delegate lead by winning at least three Republican contests, including his knockout victory in Florida that pushed rival and Senator from the state Marco Rubio out of the race. Trump won Florida, the biggest prize on the map, including all 99 of its delegates.
The 69-year-old real estate magnate registered impressive wins in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina but lost to Ohio Governor John Kasich in his home state.
Trump was slightly ahead of his nearest rival Senator Ted Cruz in state of Missouri.
On the Democratic side, Clinton further cemented her lead as she defeated Bernie Sanders in the hard-fought Ohio primary, as well as in North Carolina and Florida, completing her sweep of the Southern state contests.
“This was another Super Tuesday for our campaign,” the 68-year-old former secretary of state said at a victory party in West Palm Beach, Florida, while claiming she is now “very close to winning the Democratic Party nomination.”
Primary results today also put Trump ahead of the rest of the Republican candidates in the race to the White House but were still not enough to assure him party’s presidential nomination.
With wins in 18 states so far, Trump is far ahead of others in terms of delegate count, but not yet near the half way mark of 1,237 delegates.
However, Trump in his victory speech in Miami exuded confidence on winning the race and defeating his presumptive Democratic rival Clinton in the November polls.
“We have to bring our party together. We have something happening that makes the Republican party the story over the world. Millions of people are joining the party. We have a great opportunity. Democrats are coming in. Independents are coming in,” Trump said in his victory speech in Palm Beach.
“There is great anger among the people. They want to see the country run properly,” he said as he gave his characteristic speech reiterating his stand on terrorism, trade and the wall along the US-Mexico border.
“We are going to make the best trade deal that you have ever seen. We need protection in the country. This country is going to start winning again,” Trump said, adding that the US is no longer winning in trade with countries like China, Germany, Japan, Vietnam and India.
In his speech, Trump said Apple would be manufacturing its iPhone in the US and not in China.
Reiterating his resolve to rebuild the military, Trump said he would defeat ISIS and win against terrorism.
Trump’s main rival Cruz was yet to open an account today, even though he was giving a tough fight to Trump.
In his speech, Trump also praised and congratulated Florida Senator Marco Rubio who dropped out of the race. Trump and Rubio have had bitter confrontations in presidential debates and have indulged in a continued war of words.
“He has got a great future,” said Trump who till a few hours used to mock him as “little Marco”.
It was disappointing night for Rubio, who badly lost his home state, following which he announced to drop out of the race.
Kasich vowed to stay in the race, buoyed by his Ohio victory.
After three defeats against Clinton, Sanders predicted he would win next week in Arizona, as he rallied supporters during an hour-long speech in Phoenix.
By the end of what was dubbed ‘Super Tuesday 2.0’ featuring contests in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois — both Clinton and Trump had further solidified their front-runner status following recent campaign trail hiccups.
But the underdogs saw silver linings all the same.
At a late-night rally in Houston, Cruz said he would gain delegates out of the day’s contests and suggested Rubio’s exit only crystallises the choice for voters –- between him and Trump.
“Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again,” he said.