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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each expanded their leads on Tuesday, winning multiple primary victories that make it all the more improbable that rivals can catch up to them in the race for their party's presidential nomination.
Clinton won victories in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, in what looked to be a big setback to Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race. Clinton held a lead in Illinois and Sanders in Missouri.
On the Republican side, Trump won a decisive victory in Florida over Marco Rubio, who later suspended his campaign. Trump also won North Carolina and Illinois, overcoming a wave of attack ads and negative publicity over his campaign rhetoric and violent disturbances at rallies.
But Trump was soundly defeated in Ohio by John Kasich, in his first victory so far in the race.
Cable networks had dubbed ‘Super Tuesday III’ as Ohio, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri cast ballots. But it was shaping up as a pivotal day for Trump and Clinton, as they each looked for enough victories to make their paths to the nomination unstoppable.
Speaking to supporters in Florida, Clinton said turned her attention to Trump, "To be great, we can't be small. We can't lost what made America great in the first place."
Clinton's wins convinced some of her Hollywood backers that she had overcome Sanders' unexpectedly strong challenge.
"Huge win for Hillary tonight and it is clear she will be our nominee," political consultant Andy Spahn, whose firm represents clients such as Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, said. "The primaries will continue, but it's time to focus on stopping Trump."
Rubio was hoping that he could upset in his home state, where Trump had a significant lead in most polls. As the youngest candidate in the race, Rubio was once viewed as someone who could unite factions of the GOP, while he pitched his campaign as a forward-looking contrast to Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. In fact, many Democrats saw Rubio as Clinton's most formidable potential rival.
"While this may not have been the year for a hopeful and optimistic message about our future, I still remain hopeful and optimistic four our country," Rubio said in conceding.
He said that "America is in the middle of a real political storm, a tsunami, and we should have seen this coming."
Analysts in recent days have said that if Kasich were to deny Trump a victory in Ohio, there would be a good chance that no GOP candidate will have a majority of delegates by the time of the Republican National Convention in July.
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