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US presidential contenders Trump and Cruz go head to head in key Indiana primary

Polls have closed in Indiana, in a primary contest some say could decide the Republican nominee for president. Frontrunner Donald Trump looked set to secure enough votes for a win.

Television networks predicted Republican front-runner Donald Trump to be the winner soon after polling closed on Tuesday evening.

The vote in the Midwestern US state of Indiana looked set to be a make-or-break moment for the so-called "Stop Trump" coalition, which is determined to prevent the brash New York billionaire from becoming the Republican Party's nominee.

During a speech in Indianapolis on Monday, the frontrunner himself acknowledged how pivotal the state was for him. "Indiana is very important, because if I win that's the end of it. It would be over," Trump said.

USA Vorwahlen in Indianapolis, Indiana 2016 Ted Cruz und Carly Fiorina

Cruz and running mate Fiorina are hoping for a key victory in Indiana but Trump is leading, according to polls

While an exaggeration - a win in Indiana would still not give him all the additional delegates he needs - it would put Trump well ahead of his closest rival,

Texas Senator Cruz

, who currently holds 565 delegates to Trump's 996.

For Cruz, a victory in Indiana would mean he still has a fighting chance to make it to the Republican National Convention in July, where he hopes to garner enough support from the anti-Trump demographic to ride to victory with a brokered convention.

War of words

However, most public polls put Trump ahead of Cruz, with an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey conducted last week giving him a 15 point lead over the Texas senator.

The attacks grew noticeably more personal on Tuesday, perhaps as a result of the heightened pressure of the Indiana vote. In a Fox News interview, Trump linked Cruz's father to the murderer of John F. Kennedy, causing the Texas senator to fire back by calling Trump a "moron," among other things.

USA Indiana Vorwahlen Hillary Clinton

Clinton is well ahead of rival Sanders, although the Vermont senator says he will stay in the race

"We are not a proud, boastful, self-centered, mean-spirited, hateful, bullying nation," Cruz said alongside his wife Heidi and running mate Carly Fiorina earlier on Tuesday. "If Indiana does not act, this country could well plunge into the abyss."

Trump had his own words for Cruz, however. In a statement released following the senator's most recent comments, Trump said Cruz was "a desperate candidate trying to save his failing campaign."

"Today's ridiculous outburst only proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be President of the United States."

Democratic duo

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, seems poised to win, as she only needs 21 percent of the remaining delegates to achieve the nomination. Her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, however, said he would not quit, insisting Clinton was the wrong choice for the American people.

"Secretary Clinton has supported virtually every one of these disastrous trade agreements and that is an area of strong disagreement that the voters of Indiana and America will have to consider," Sanders said in Indianapolis.

blc/jm (AP, AFP)

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