Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton solidified their leads in their races to win their party’s respective presidential nominations, winning a majority of states in the crucial Super Tuesday series of primaries and caucuses.
Voters in 12 states cast ballots on Tuesday in primaries and caucuses, in the biggest night so far in the 2016 presidential race.
Trump withstood concerted efforts by rivals and the GOP establishment to slow and even stop his momentum, winning Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
Clinton, meanwhile, won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Rivals scored their own victories that gave them glimmers of hope.
Trump’s rival for the GOP nomination, Ted Cruz, won his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma, as well as Alaska. Marco Rubio was projected to win the caucuses in Minnesota, giving him his first victory so far.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders won his home state of Vermont as well as Oklahoma, Colorado and Minnesota.
Clinton’s victories make it all the more difficult for Sanders to beat her in the race for the Democratic nomination. One of her key wins was in Massachusetts, where she narrowly beat her rival in a delegate-rich state.
“What a super Tuesday,” Clinton told supporters at a rally in Miami, Florida, earlier in the evening.
“It may be unusual for a presidential candidate to say, but I am going to say it. I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness,” she said, a reference to rhetoric on the Republican side.
More than any other candidate, Clinton has drawn heavily on the entertainment industry for campaign contributions, having trekked to Los Angeles last week for a series of fundraisers. Clinton will be in New York on Wednesday for a fundraising concert with Elton John, Katy Perry and Andra Day at Radio City Music Hall.
“You have sustained me. I am so proud to bring Vermont values all across the country,” he said.
Sanders’ campaign announced on Tuesday that it raised $42.7 million in February, a figure that is expected to top Clinton’s fundraising haul for the month.
Trump not only expanded his delegate lead, but also stands to benefit from the likelihood that rivals would remain in the race, splitting the vote against him.
Trump held a press conference at his resort, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., where he spent much of his time turning to Clinton as a general election candidate. He also insisted that his campaign has “expanded the Republican party.”
Before a row of American flags, Trump said that he was a “unifier,” even as some conservatives, like Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), have vowed not to vote for him.
“I think, honestly, we’ve done something that people never thought could be done, and I’m very proud,” Trump said.
Standing behind him, a bit stone faced, was Chris Christie, who has drawn criticism even from past supporters for endorsing Trump last week.
Rivals Rubio and Cruz have amped up their attacks on Trump, with an impact that was mixed, at best.
Recent days have seen an increased mobilization among some establishment Republicans to stop Trump’s momentum, with the Twitter hashtag #nevertrump.
Rubio in particular has chided Trump over a host of issues, including litigation involving Trump University and the New York real estate mogul’s refusal to immediately disavow former KKK leader David Duke in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. Trump blamed the interview on a faulty earpiece, and, on Tuesday, noted that he disavowed Duke before and after the Tapper interview.
Since the last GOP debate on Thursday, the attacks have descended to the level of a high school race for class president. Rubio has mocked Trump’s spray tan and even the size of his hands.
In response, Trump has been referring to Rubio as “little Marco Rubio,” characterizing him as a lightweight who chokes under pressure. At his press conference, Trump said that Rubio “decided to become Don Rickles, but Don Rickles has a lot more talent.”
Rubio’s win in Minnesota gave him his first victory, and his supporters expressed encouragement over his close second place finish in Virginia.
“Five days ago, we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist,” Rubio told supporters. “And in just five days, we have seen the impact that it is having all across the country.”
He has vowed to press on, particularly with the upcoming Florida primary on March 15.
But in his speech to supporters gathered at Redneck Country Club in Stafford, Texas, Cruz argued that his campaign should be the alternative to Trump, and that rivals who have yet to win any races should coalesce around his candidacy to stop him.
“Our campaign is the only campaign that can beat, has beat and will beat Donald Trump,” Cruz told supporters gathered in Stafford, Texas. Cruz devoted most of his speech to attacking Trump, calling him a he called “a Washington dealmaker, profane and vulgar.”
Even as Trump faces louder opposition from within the party, he is expected to draw additional endorsements, along with an acknowledgement that he has sparked a movement that could reshape the GOP. Carl Icahn, who backed Trump’s bid last year, called in to Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto and said, “I do believe Donald Trump is what this country needs right now.”
Eleven states were voting on Tuesday — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. In addition, voters in Colorado were casting votes for Democrats, and Alaska for Republicans.
Some saw the evening as especially beneficial for Clinton, not just for her victories but for the prospect of who she will face in November.
Political consultant Andy Spahn, whose firm represents clients such as Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, said it was a “great night for Hillary.”
Writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, among the industry’s highest profile conservatives, said that the results were “enough incentive for [other candidates] to carry on. The conventional wisdom is it helps Trump. I suspect they are right.” Chetwynd has been supporting Cruz.
Chetwynd said he still saw a path for Cruz in some upcoming states, but “I don’t see how Trump is stopped.”