In a front-runner’s rout, Republican Donald Trump roared to victory Tuesday in five contests across the Northeast and confidently declared himself the GOP’s “presumptive nominee.”
Though Trump’s win reduces the odds of a contested convention in July, he still must negotiate a narrow path to keep from falling short of the delegates needed to claim the nomination. Cruz and Kasich are working toward that result, which would leave Trump open to a floor fight in which delegates could turn to someone else.
Trump was having none of that. “It’s over. As far as I’m concerned it’s over,” he declared at his victory rally in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.
The candidate also attacked Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying her only appeal to voters was her being a woman.
“If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is women don’t like her,” he said.
“I’ll do far more for women than Hillary Clinton will do,” he said. “We will beat Hillary so easily.”
He claimed Clinton would be “horrible” on foreign policy and would not create new jobs.
“Hillary – I call her crooked Hillary,” Trump said. “She’s crooked.”
Trump’s victories in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island padded his delegate totals, yet the Republican contest remains chaotic. The businessman is the only candidate left in the three-person race who could possibly clinch the nomination through the regular voting process, yet he could still fall short of the 1,237 delegates he needs.
Cruz and Kasich are desperately trying to keep Trump from that magic number and push the race to a convention fight. The Texas senator and Ohio governor even took the rare step of announcing plans to coordinate in upcoming contests to try to minimize Trump’s delegate totals.
That effort did little to stop Trump from a big showing in the Northeast, where he picked up at least 105 of the 118 delegates up for grabs. Despite his solid win in Pennsylvania, the state’s primary system means 54 of the delegates elected by voters will be free agents at the GOP convention, able to vote for the candidate of their choice.
Cruz spent Tuesday in Indiana, which votes next week. Indiana is one of Cruz’s last best chances to slow Trump, and Kasich’s campaign is pulling out of the state to give him a better opportunity to do so.
“Tonight this campaign moves back to more favorable terrain,” Cruz said during an evening rally in Knightstown, Indiana. His event was held at the “Hoosier gym,” where some scenes were filmed for the 1986 movie, “Hoosiers,” about a small town Indiana basketball team that wins the state championship.
Trump has railed against his rivals’ coordination, panning it as a “faulty deal” and has also cast efforts to push the nomination fight to the convention as evidence of a rigged process that favors political insiders.
Yet there’s no doubt the GOP is deeply divided by his candidacy. In Pennsylvania, exit polls showed nearly 4 in 10 GOP voters said they would be excited by Trump becoming president, but the prospect of the real estate mogul in the White House scared a quarter of those who cast ballots in the state’s Republican primary.
In another potential general election warning sign for Republicans, 6 in 10 GOP voters in Pennsylvania said the Republican campaign has divided the party — a sharp contrast to the 7 in 10 Democratic voters in the state who said the race between Clinton and Sanders has energized their party.
The exit polls were conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.