Donald Trump wins super Tuesday, Marco Rubio exits upon loss
Donald Trump won a crushing victory in Florida’s winner-take-all Republican presidential primary Tuesday — and also captured delegate-rich contestsin North Carolina and Illinois.
But Ohio Gov. John Kasich took his home state, denying Trump the sweep that would have all-but-clinched the GOP nomination.
The Manhattan real-estate mogul also had a razor-thin lead over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in Missouri.
“This was an amazing evening, this was a great evening,” a jubilant Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
“We have to bring our party together. We have something happening that actually makes the Republican Party the biggest political story in the world. Millions of people are coming in to vote,” he said.
The outspoken billionaire added that he had recently spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) about unifying the party.
“We’ve got a long way to go but I think at some point it’s going to get done,” he said. “We’re going to win, win, win and we’re not stopping.”
Trump also praised also-ran Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who ended his campaign as the results rolled in, saying he had “a great future.”
But Trump then complained bitterly about what he called false, negative ads about him.
A beaming Kasich was ecstatic to escape with his first victory to keep his struggling campaign alive.
“You better believe it’s about America, about bringing us together, not pulling us apart,” Kasich told cheering supporters while promising to focus on issues for the remainder of the campaign.
“I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” he vowed.
As Rubio dropped out, he graciously congratulated Trump on his “big win” in the Sunshine State, drawing boos from his supporters. Rubio silenced them.
“America is in the middle of a real political storm, a real tsunami, and we should have seen it coming,” Rubio said.
He easily handled a heckler, saying the person would “not get beat up” at his rally, a swipe at the recent violence at some Trump’s rallies.
Cruz, meanwhile, said he would welcome Rubio’s supporters “with open arms,” telling a Houston rally that the battle for the nomination was now a “two-person race” between himself and Trump.
Trump awoke to a victory early Tuesday by scoring all nine delegates in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Pacific.
Even before all of the day’s results were in, a group of conservative leaders called a meeting to discuss options for blocking Trump’s path to the nomination — including the possibility of rallying around a third-party candidate.
A person familiar with the planning for Thursday’s gathering said the discussion would focus first on trying to get conservatives to unite around one candidate to compete against Trump, according to Politico, which first disclosed the meeting.
Big-money donors would be mobilized to pressure other candidates to go along.
Kasich said earlier that no matter what happened Tuesday, he would not support Trump.
“There’s no way I would team up with Donald Trump,” Kasich said on Fox News. “No way, forget it. I just want to be a good guy, helping my country.”
Despite Kasich’s comment, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus predicted that no GOP White House hopeful would break his pledge to back the party’s presidential nominee.
“I think that all of these candidates are true to their word and will support the eventual nominee of the party,” he told Fox News.
“Whether it’s posturing or whatever, I expect that they’ll eventually support the nominee. We’ve always been able to come together before.”
Priebus dismissed critics who charge that a brokered Republican National Convention in July would create a party schism.
“I think it would be enormously interesting,” he said. “I think the reviews would be off the charts. In spite of drama and intrigue, we’re in great shape.”