Donald Trump claimed six Republican victories on Super Tuesday as the New York businessman extended his dominance in the 2016 primary.
But Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas and Oklahoma, and called on other candidates to join him in fighting Trump’s candidacy. Republican rival Marco Rubio won Minnesota, though.
The contest in Vermont was too close to call, while voting continued in Alaska.
Hillary Clinton also forged ahead, winning seven Democratic presidential primaries in Massachusetts, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.
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Bernie Sanders won his home state of Vermont, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado, though.
Still, the night belonged to Trump and Clinton, who turned the busiest day of the 2016 primaries into a showcase of their strength with a wide swath of American voters.
“What a Super Tuesday,” Clinton exclaimed during a victory rally.
Trump’s victories came in Arkansas, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Massachusetts.
In a news conference, Trump insisted he has “expanded the Republican party,” claiming that he is responsible for higher voter turnout in the primary states.
Despite heightened efforts by the GOP establishment to stop him, Trump said he is “a unifier” who soon wanted to put internal Republican squabbles behind him to focus on Clinton.
Trump’s victories came as he looked for a sweep on a Super Tuesday marked by panic from Republican leaders.
Cruz desperately needed a win in Texas in order to stay in the race, and was likely to keep campaigning as the only Republican who has been able to defeat Trump in any primary contest.
For Rubio, the night was a disappointment, although he won in Minnesota. While a flood of Republican officeholders have rallied around him in recent days, it was only his first victory.
Fearing Trump may build an insurmountable delegate lead, top Republican officials lashed out at the billionaire businessman’s command of the issues and “seeming ambivalence” over white supremacists as voting began. But having won three consecutive primary elections, Trump was poised to tighten his grasp on the GOP nomination in primary elections from Georgia to Massachusetts and Texas to Arkansas.
Trump has jumped to a big lead in Super Tuesday delegates.
Trump has won at least 139 Super Tuesday delegates, while Cruz has won at least 52.
There are 595 Republican delegates at stake in 11 states.
Rubio has won at least 25 delegates and John Kasich has won at least 13. So far, Ben Carson has picked up two delegates in Virginia.
Overall, Trump leads with 221 delegates. Cruz has 69, Rubio has 41, Kasich has 19 and Carson has seven.
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.
Clinton achieved key victories to extend her lead over rival Sanders, who risked a major setback if he had a poor showing in the rest of the Super Tuesday contests.
With his four wins, Sanders pledged to stay in the race.
Clinton turned her attention during her victory rally toward her possible Republican opponents.
Clinton decried the GOP for “turning its back” on America’s working and middle class citizens. She criticized what she called the angry, divisive rhetoric from the Republican front-runner Trump, though she did not name him.
With Arkansas, Clinton won the state where she once served as the state’s first lady. She also won American Samoa.
Clinton aims for a sweep of Southern states in the delegate-heavy series of primaries and caucuses Tuesday. Sanders could bank only on the home-state win and both campaigns were vying for support in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
As polls closed, Clinton spoke to a forum of black women hosted by the television network BET at the St. Regis hotel in Miami.
“I’m thinking about how we can elevate the political dialogue away from the insults and really mean-spirited language,” she said.
Clinton and her allies have already shifted some attention to Donald Trump, casting the Republican front-runner as divisive and unprepared to lead the country. The Republican contest, said Clinton, has “turned into a kind of one-upsmanship on insulting.”
All told, Clinton and Sanders were competing for 865 delegates in 11 states and American Samoa on Tuesday, the biggest single-day prize of the 2016 campaign.
Clinton is now assured of winning at least 334 of the 865 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday. That’s compared to Sanders, who at least 145.
Including superdelegates, Clinton now has at least 882 delegates. Sanders has at least 232. It takes 2,383 delegates to win.
Black voters powered Clinton to victory in South Carolina last weekend and were expected to give her a huge advantage throughout the South.
Nearly half of Democratic primary voters in Alabama and Georgia were black, according to early results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks. In Texas, about 3 in 10 Democratic primary voters were Hispanic and a little fewer than 2 in 10 were black.