Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton racked up a string of Super Tuesday primary victories, pulling well ahead of their rivals in the race for delegates—though their closest competitors, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Bernie Sanders, notched enough wins or close seconds to keep the race alive.
With results still coming in, Trump is projected to win in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Virginia. Clinton is projected to win Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Cruz, though, is projected to win the Republican primary in his home state of Texas, as well as in Oklahoma.
And on the Democratic side, Sanders was projected to notch a win in his home state of Vermont as well as in Oklahoma.
Texas was the biggest prize on the Super Tuesday map, offering 222 Democratic delegates and 155 Republican delegates. A win for Cruz was considered critical, and he was able to thwart any potential late-hour surge by Trump there.
Elsewhere, races remained too close to call, including in Vermont on the GOP side, where John Kasich, who campaigned heavily there, is surprisingly competitive with Trump.
Trump and Rubio had been in a battle for first in Virginia, but Rubio is now projected to finish a close second.
Trump, holding an unusual primary-night press conference in Florida, repeatedly taunted Rubio for his Super Tuesday finish — again calling him a “lightweight” while threatening to take on the Florida senator in his home state on March 15.
Collectively, the Super Tuesday contests mark the biggest day of primary season voting to date.
Across 11 states, 595 Republican delegates were up for grabs—nearly half the number needed to clinch the nomination. And on the Democratic side, Clinton and Vermont Sen. Sanders were battling for 865 delegates
in 11 states—roughly a third of the number needed to clinch the nomination.
Clinton entered Super Tuesday with a head of steam following her landslide win over Sanders in South Carolina this past Saturday.
Speaking in Florida after notching several wins, Clinton seemed once again to look beyond Sanders—taking implicit shots at Trump’s “make America great again” campaign slogan.
“America never stopped being great,” Clinton said. “We have to make America whole.”
She also mocked his proposal for a southern border wall, saying, “Instead of building walls, we’re going to break down barriers.”
Trump answered right back, ridiculing Clinton for complaining about the state of the economy.
“She’s been there for so long, I mean if she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years.”
And he quipped: “Make America great again is going to be much better than making America whole again.”
Sanders, meanwhile, savored his home-state win all the same, rallying cheering supporters in Vermont Tuesday evening. “It is good to be home,” he said, before shifting to his stump speech slams against a “corrupt campaign finance system.”
While Trump was expected to dominate the Republican primary field, Rubio and Cruz were battling fiercely for second — hoping to be the definitive alternative to take on Trump in what could be a bruising, to-the-convention fight for the future of the party.
Ohio Gov. Kasich, who’s expressed low expectations for Super Tuesday,
remains in the race in hopes of making it to the Ohio contest in two weeks, though his presence continues to frustrate efforts by Rubio and Cruz to consolidate support.
“Super Tuesday was never anything that we ever thought was going to be some great thing for us,” Kasich openly acknowledged to Fox News earlier Tuesday.
In a sign of his expectations, Cruz planned his election night party in Stafford, Texas.
But because delegates can be allocated proportionally in the Super Tuesday contests, Rubio and Cruz both want to rack up a substantial number of second-place finishes.
A Rubio campaign aide told Fox News they are “focused on only one thing today: delegates.”
Trump earlier called on Rubio to drop out, but the senator vowed to goto all 50 states in a bid to thwart his presidential run.
In the run-up to Tuesday, Cruz and Rubio both have stepped up their attacks on the front-runner, resorting to the kinds of personal insults and attacks that have defined Trump’s campaign style.
Rubio defended the new tack in an interview with Fox News. “Every now and then, someone like that needs a taste of their own medicine because that’s called a bully and he’s using the pulpit of the presidency or the presidential run to insult people,” Rubio said.
Cruz told Fox News that while Trump will have a “big chunk of delegates” come Wednesday morning, “We’re going to have a big chunk of delegates, and there’s going to be a huge drop off for everybody else.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, meanwhile, has defended his continued presence in the race.
“People have asked for somebody who is not a politician, who was a member of we the people, who has an outstanding life of achievement and who thinks the way they do,” he told Fox News.