Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton rapidly turned their fire on each other with an eye toward November’s presidential election after rolling up strong wins in North-eastern states.
The New York billionaire easily defeated rivals John Kasich and Ted Cruz in all five states that held party nominating contests on Tuesday – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. He had a margin of victory rivaling that of New York state a week ago and was on course to win the vote in every county in each state.
Clinton, already in control of the Democratic race, defeated challenger Bernie Sanders in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Her only loss of the night was in Rhode Island.
The race now pivots immediately to Indiana, which is shaping up to be Cruz’s best, and perhaps last, chance to slow Trump’s momentum toward capturing the Republican presidential nomination for the Nov. 8 general election.
If Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, can win a large share of the state’s 57 delegates on May 3, it will boost the chances that Trump will not be able to amass the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination before the party’s convention in July. That could give Cruz a shot at convincing delegates to back him for president instead.
Cruz’s campaign has begun hinting that he could name a vice presidential running mate as soon as this week, a move that would seek to consolidate more Republican support and create an image that he will be the nominee. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who made a failed presidential bid, is among the potential picks being vetted.
Trump, pressing his point that he views the nominating race as essentially finished, criticized that as a potential Cruz pick. “I think it would be a bad choice, not because she’s a woman but because she did not resonate at all with people.”
“It’s too early to do it. And frankly, he’s wasting his time because he’s not going to be the nominee,” Trump said.
A loss to Trump in Indiana would effectively cripple Cruz’s already faltering bid, and increase pressure on the party to rally around Trump as the prospective nominee.
As Trump has moved from longshot candidate in a crowded field last year to clear front-runner, he has sparked despair among many in the Republican establishment both for his aggressive and sometimes insulting style and for campaign pledges such as slapping a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, and building a wall along the border with Mexico.
Katie Packer, head of the anti-Trump political-action committee Our Principles, said her organization would be active in Indiana with “TV, mail, phones, digital, all of it.”
“We’re going to be playing in a lot of different congressional districts,” Packer said.
The Club for Growth, a conservative pro-business group, has bought $1.5 million worth of anti-Trump TV ads in the state.
Both groups worked to hand Trump a defeat at the hands of Cruz earlier this month in Wisconsin.
“Tonight, this campaign moves back to more favourable terrain,” Cruz said in Knightstown, Indiana on Tuesday.
Trump, Clinton Wins Solidify Movement toward Nomination28/04/2016