Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have emerged the clear victors of Tuesday's primary races. Their rivals are already turning to the next contests in hopes of gaining ground.
"Super Tuesday 3" - another key day of primaries that saw five states in the northeastern US heading to the polls - drew to a close with two figures casting their shadows over their opponents.
Trump, the brash New York billionaire who has dominated headlines and split the Republican Party down the middle,swept Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Pennsylvania
. The business tycoon now has 77 percent of the delegates he needs to become the Republican presidential nominee. With 950 delegates to his name, he could, however, still fall short of the required 1,237.
Clinton, meanwhile, asserted her lead over rival Bernie Sanders, even as he clinched a victory in Rhode Island. With four victories, she now has 90 percent of the delegates needed to see her become the first female nomination from a major party.
Trump: 'the presumptive nominee'?
Speaking to an audience of more than 1,000 people in Pennsylvania, Clinton called on voters to vote against the Republican candidates.
"If you are a Democrat, an independent or a thoughtful Republican you know that their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality," she said.
Trump, meanwhile, called himself "the presumptive nominee" during his speech in Manhattan, despite the fact he has yet to win all 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. His rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, are hoping to take the fight to the convention in June, where they'd still have a chance of winning their party's nomination.
Regarding Clinton, Trump dismissed her as an honest candidate. "I call her 'Crooked Hillary,'" he said during his speech.
Before the voting, he told reporters she was only taken seriously because of her gender. "Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get five percent of the vote," he said.
Sanders, the other winner of Tuesday's primaries, gained little ground against Clinton, who currently has 1,618 delegates to Sanders' 1,267.
In his speech at a rally in West Virginia, the Vermont senator, who has run on a platform critical of Wall Street and the corrupting influence of money in politics, showed no signs of giving up.
"The reason that we are generating this enthusiasm is because we are doing something very unusual in contemporary politics. We are telling the truth," he said.
blc/jr (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)