Donald Trump declared he WILL be the Republican presidential nominee as he swept to victory in five out of five state primaries on Tuesday.
The billionaire businessman won in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut, increasing his chances that he will be able to secure the nomination before the Republican Convention in July.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton strengthened her position as the Democratic front-runner with wins in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware, as she sought to shift her focus on the November general election.
Clinton told supporters: “With your help, we are going to come back to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, with the most votes and the most pledged delegates.”
The contests were dubbed yet another “Super Tuesday,” with the five mid-Atlantic states holding primaries.
Trump was looking to widen his delegate lead, hoping to draw lopsided margins and fend off rivals seeking to deny him the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination before the convention.
His rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, announced an agreement earlier this week to divvy up several states that hold primaries in May as a way of denying Trump the ability to reach that threshold.
But there have been questions about how effective such a pact would be, and even if Cruz and Kasich would stick to it.
Speaking to supporters in New York, Trump called it “collision” and “a faulty deal.” He also criticised the system for selecting delegates in both parties.
“The best way to beat the system is nights like this, when you get record setting votes and record setting delegates,” Trump said.
He called Clinton a “flawed candidate” who would be “easy to beat.”
On the Democratic side, Clinton’s supporters were looking to the night to produce enough victories to make the case to rival Bernie Sanders that his quest for the nomination is not just a longshot, but implausible given the delegate count.
She needs 2,383 delegates to secure the nomination, and is about 250 pledged delegates ahead of Sanders, and 700 total delegates ahead.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hugs her husband, former President Bill Clinton, after speaking to supporters during her five state primary night rally held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2016.
Cruz, speaking to supporters in Kingstown, Indiana, earlier in the evening, predicted that the media would be quick to declare Trump the presumptive nominee knowing that he would be easier for Clinton to beat in November.
“Donald Trump is going to win some states, and the media is going to have heart palpitations this evening,” Cruz said.
“I got good news for you, tonight this campaign moves back to more favourable terrain,” Cruz added, a reference to the Hoosier state, where he expects his prospects to improve.
Sanders gave no indication that he was looking to bow out of the race.
Speaking to supporters in Huntington, West Virginia, he reminded how he has gone from being a “fringe” candidate in the eyes of the media to one who is leading in some national polls.
He also cited polling showing he does better as a challenger against Trump or Cruz than Clinton.
But Sanders suffered a big defeat last week in New York, and he seemed to suggest to his backers that he was hobbled by the inability of independents to vote in that state’s Democratic primary as well as in other states.