The march of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to Republican and Democratic presidential nominations was slowed a little as rivals Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders notched two more wins each in five nomination contests.
While real estate mogul added Louisiana primaries and Kentucky caucuses on Saturday to his 10 victories in 15 states earlier, Texas Senator Ted Cruz put Kansas and Maine in his victory column to slow the Trump train.
Though with 12 victories to date, Trump remains far ahead overall in the Republican contest, Cruz’s two wins Saturday combined with his earlier success in four other states — Iowa, Nevada, Oklahoma and Alaska — back up his claim to be Trump’s main rival.
“I have been in competitions all of my life,” Trump said in a press conference at Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, Florida. “There is nothing so exciting as this stuff.”
But rival Cruz said at an event in Idaho, which votes on Tuesday, that “the scream you hear-the howl you hear from Washington, DC – is utter terror for what we the people are doing together. What we’re seeing is conservatives coming together”.
“I think what it represents is Republicans coalescing, saying it would be a disaster for Donald Trump to be our nominee and we’re going to stand behind the strongest conservative in the race,” he said.
Boasting of his “breadth of support”, Cruz suggested it was time for the other two Republican candidates, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich, to consider dropping out of the race.
Establishment favourite Rubio, who has won only one state so far, put on a brave face, saying that the states being contested on Super Saturday favoured other candidates, but predicted that his fortunes would soon change.
He predicted victory in his home state of Florida on March 15, but polls show Trump leading him by double digits there.
On the Democratic side, self-styled Democratic Socialist Sanders won in Nebraska and Kansas, while Clinton picked up another win in Louisiana, where black voters make up a large portion of the Democratic electorate.
In a statement after his victory in Kansas, Sanders pointed to wins in a geographic range of states. “We have now won double-digit victories from New England to the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains to the Midwest,” Sanders said.
“Tonight, we won Kansas with a good vote. We won Nebraska with a good vote,” he said. “I think we are going to do well in Maine tomorrow. We are going to do very well here on Tuesday.”
Saturday’s results were not likely to alter the broader contours of the Democratic race as Clinton maintains a significant delegate lead.