GOP front-runner Donald Trump solidified his grip on the Republican presidential race by earning victories in four of five primaries Tuesday evening, also known as Super Tuesday III.
Trump won GOP contests in Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina.
Of 2.3 million votes cast in Florida, Trump’s victory with 18.7 percent plurality drove second-place finisher Senator Marco Rubio from the race.
In Missouri, Trump eked out a win over Texas Senator Ted Cruz by 0.2 percent of the vote; in North Carolina, Trump bested Cruz again by a wider margin; and in Illinois Trump won comfortably by eight percentage points.
Only in the Buckeye State, against Ohio Governor John Kasich, did the Trump juggernaut face defeat. Triumphant in his home state, Kasich’s margin of victory over the New York real-estate mogul surpassed 11 percent.
The night was not without casualties: Despite repeated assertions he would remain in the fight for the nomination, Senator Marco Rubio ended his bid Tuesday evening after his battering at Trump’s hands.
In defeat, Rubio illustrated a flash of both humility and class:
“After tonight, it is clear that while we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side. While it is not God’s plan that I be president in 2016 — or maybe ever — and today my campaign is suspended, the fact that I’ve even come this far is evidence of how truly special America is.”
Both Cruz and Trump lauded Mr. Rubio and his campaign.
Mr. Cruz stated he would “welcome Rubio supporters with open arms.”
Despite often acrimonious exchanges in debates with Mr. Trump, of the Florida senator the New York businessman stated:
“He’s tough, he’s smart, and he’s got a great future.”
Rubio’s exit leaves open the question of the fate of his delegates. Accruing 169 as of Tuesday evening, states’ rules vary on the distribution; however, despite what influence Rubio holds over each delegate, it is most likely the delegates will form a bloc and join one campaign.
[The Guardian] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy capitalbaynews.com]