Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are turning their rhetorical fire on one another as both emerged with strong victories in their parties’ Super Tuesday contests for the presidential nomination.
Trump, the trash-talking New York billionaire and Clinton, former secretary of state, each won seven states in the biggest day in the primary campaign. The frontrunners are building their leads in the delegate counts that will determine each major party’s nominee in national conventions this summer.
Tuesday’s outcome moves the contest closer to a Trump-Clinton showdown in the November election, likely be the starkest contrast in presidential candidates American voters have seen in their lifetimes.
It’s clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower.Hillary Clinton
Trump, too, had his eye on Clinton, casting her as part of a political establishment that has failed Americans.
She (Clinton) has been there for so long. If she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years.Donald Trump
Trump’s dominance has shaken Republican leaders, who fear he is unelectable. Tuesday’s results did little to clarify which of two senators, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, might emerge as Trump’s main Republican rival, with both vowing to fight on despite weak performances.
Cruz, a firebrand conservative senator, won the biggest prize – his home state of Texas – and neighboring Oklahoma as well as Alaska, giving him four wins overall, including the Iowa caucuses. But he failed elsewhere in the South, where he had campaigned extensively and early on.
Still, Cruz called on Rubio and other candidates to step aside.
I ask you (other republican candidates) to prayerfully consider our coming together, united.Ted Cruz
Rubio emerged Tuesday with his first victory, in the Minnesota caucuses, but did not live up to the hopes of many in the Republican establishment who have promoted him as the party’s best alternative to Trump. His hopes are now on the March 15 primary in his home state of Florida, where, unlike Tuesday’s contests, the winner will claim all the delegates.
In the Democratic race, Clinton has faced a tougher-than-expected challenge from Sanders, who has energized supporters with his calls for a “political revolution” and denunciations of America’s wealth gap. But he has struggled to expand his base beyond young people and liberals.
Sanders won four states Tuesday: Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont. But Clinton won the biggest states and by wide margins, giving her a much larger share of delegates.
Clinton was assured of winning at least 457 of the 865 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday, while Sanders picked up at least 286 delegates. Overall, Clinton now has at least 1,005 delegates. Sanders had at least 373. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
Clinton won in Texas, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia. The wins reflected her strength in the South, where black voters are an important part of the Democratic base. Clinton also won in the South Pacific island territory of American Samoa. She was supported by at least 80 percent of black voters in the Deep South and Texas, and bolstered by women and older voters.
Trump won in Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Georgia.
Trump won 203 delegates Tuesday, while Cruz picked up 144. Overall, Trump leads the Republican field with 285 delegates, with 1,237 needed for the nomination. Cruz has 161, Rubio has 87, Ohio Governor John Kasich has 25 and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has eight.