STAFFORD, Texas -- Donald J. Trump continued his sprint toward the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday virtually unobstructed, securing the lion's share of delegates from eleven state contests on the most consequential day of the primary calendar.
Winning much of the American South, supporters of the New York real estate tycoon and reality television star once again crossed demographic lines, according to exit polls. He won decisively in Georgia, Alabama, Vermont, Arkansas, Virginia and Tennessee, as well as in Massachusetts, leaving delegate scraps to his remaining four rivals: Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
"I’m a unifier," Trump said at a press conference in Palm Beach, Florida, where he hopes to trounce Rubio on March 15 on his home turf. "Our party is expanding, and all you have to do is take a look at the primary states where I’ve won."
Cruz won his home state– a significant prize– as well as Oklahoma. Rubio won his first contest thus far in the primary season– Minnesota– but picked up several delegates throughout the country, as Super Tuesday contests allocate their delegates to the national convention on a proportional basis.
In an aggressive speech here at the Redneck Country Club, Cruz urged Rubio to leave the race so that Republicans can coalesce behind his campaign in the fight against Trump– a "Washington dealmaker, profane and vulgar, who has a lifelong pattern of using government power for personal gain," he said.
"I will rip to shreds this catastrophic nuclear deal," Cruz told the crowd, where both American and Israeli flags waved. "I will stand unapologetically with the State of Israel."
Rubio also promised to restart the US-Israel relationship in their speeches on Tuesday night, attacking Trump for his promise to be "neutral" in the Middle East peace process.
"Allies like Israel— we will always be on their side," Rubio said. "On my first day in office, we will cancel Barack Obama's deal with Iran."
Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, handily beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in Georgia and Virginia, as well as in Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts and the territory of American Samoa. Sanders won his home state of Vermont by a significant margin, as well as Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota.
With an increasing delegate margin over her only rival, Clinton appears poised to clinch the Democratic nomination– solidifying her place in history as the first female presidential nominee for a major American political party. In beating Sanders, she will have bettered the first Jewish contender ever to win any presidential nominating contest in order to get there.
Clinton's rhetoric on the campaign trail has already turned from Sanders to the Republican field, and specifically to Trump, who holds equally as strong a position in the party he calls his own.
"The stakes in this election have never been higher, and the rhetoric we're hearing on the other side has never been lower," Clinton told supporters in Miami. "Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we're not going to let it work."
But Trump, too, will be making history of his own kind, possibly breezing to the GOP nomination spending little money and with virtually no establishment party support to speak of. Indeed, the Republican National Committee and its largest donors now fear the implications of a candidate who may cause irreparable damage– if not a full splintering– of the Republican Party itself.
Follow Washington bureau chief Michael Wilner reporting live from Stafford, Texas, as the results come in. 7:17 p.m
. Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders wins in his home state of Vermont.7:20 p.m
. Hillary Clinton wins in Georgia and Virginia. Donald Trump wins in Georgia.8:05 p.m.
Trumps wins Alabama, Massachusetts and Tennessee. Clinton wins American Samoa, Alabama, Tennessee.
8:33 p.m. Clinton wins in Arkansas.
8:36 p.m. Trump wins in Virginia.
9:12 p.m. Cruz wins Texas and Oklahoma. Clinton wins Texas. Sanders wins Oklahoma.
10:22 p.m. Trump wins in Arkansas.
11:14 p.m. Sanders wins Colorado.
11:16 p.m. Marco Rubio wins in Minnesota.
11:21 p.m. Clinton wins Massachusetts.
11:33 p.m. Sanders wins in Minnesota.
12:05 p.m. Sanders wins in Vermont
Trump wins in Vermont
Reuters contributed to this report.
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