Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both nearer to gaining their parties' White House nominations after important wins on a big day of primary contests. But their rivals are not giving up the fight.
US networks on Wednesday projected billionaire businessman Donald Trump to have won at least seven of 11 states, on a par with Hillary Clinton, on what is the 2016 US presidential campaign's biggest day of state-by-state primary contests, known as Super Tuesday.
Republican Trump was projected to win Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia, and Democrat Clinton to gain Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
The victories mean that Trump has extended his lead in convention delegates over his Republican rivals Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson. Cruz gained his home state of Texas, neighboring Oklahoma, and, in the last Super Tuesday contest, Alaska. Rubio, who hails from Florida, was projected the winner in Minnesota, his first victory of the campaign.
Bernie Sanders, who is competing against Clinton for the Democratic nomination, won his home state of Vermont, along with Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
Clinton's victories, particularly in southern states, resulted in part from her stong support among African-American voters.
Trump won at least 186 of the 595 delegates at stake on Tuesday, with Cruz collecting at least 101 and Rubio at least 56. Overall, Trump leads with 257 delegates to Cruz' 118 and Rubio's 72.
On the Democratic side, Clinton won at least 421 of the 865 delegates at stake, compared with her rival Bernie Sanders with at least 232. Clinton now has at least 969 delegates overall, while Sanders has at least 319.
The Republican nominee will need 1,237 delegates to win. A candidate for the Democrats needs 2,383.
More than half of the country has yet to vote and all contenders have vowed to continue their battle for nomination in those states.
Cruz told his supporters that Trump was a "Washington dealmaker, profane and vulgar, who has a lifelong pattern of using government power for personal gain," and argued that he was the only Republican able to beat him.
Sanders pledged to "take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace, to every one of those states."
Trump and Clinton both also delivered virulent attacks on each other after their wins, with Trump calling the former secretary of state a "Washington insider" who would not achieve the change desired by the electorate, and Clinton criticizing the "low rhetoric" coming from the other side in a likely reference to Trump's outspokenness.
Trump's gains on Super Tuesday are likely to worry many in the Republican establishment who fear that he will be easily defeated in presidential elections on November 8 if Clinton becomes the Democratic nominee. Some of his proposals, such as building a wall along the southern border with Mexico, deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the US, have caused eyebrows to be raised even within his own party.
Trump 'would be a challenge'
In response to Trump's strong showing on Super Tuesday, the transatlantic coordinator of the German government, Jürgen Hardt, told DW on Wednesday that a Trump victory in the US presidential election would pose "a great challenge" to Germany and Europe.
He said Trump was less experienced in foreign policy than Clinton, saying Clinton knew Europe "and we know her."
But he also said he expected Trump to "climb down increasingly from his radical rhetoric" in coming primaries.
tj/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)