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Trump, Clinton Win Big In Race To Reach Party's Presidential Nomination
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Trump, Clinton Win Big In Race To Reach Party's Presidential Nomination

Politics

Trump, Clinton Win Big In Race To Reach Party's Presidential Nomination

Trump, Clinton Win Big In Race To Reach Party's Presidential Nomination
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Donald Trump keeps on winning and confounding the Republican Party establishment with his broad coalition of voters. He won seven states on Super Tuesday. Hillary Clinton also won seven.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Two numbers give some nuance to last night's Super Tuesday results.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You probably heard the headline by now. Hillary Clinton won most of the Democratic contests. Donald Trump won big on the Republican side.

INSKEEP: One cautionary note for Trump is this. While he is winning states, he has fallen short of winning a majority of the convention delegates awarded so far. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also won states last night, and none of Trump's four remaining opponents has dropped out.

GREENE: A cautionary note for Hillary Clinton is this. Her contest with Bernie Sanders has attracted interest among Democrats, but Democratic voter turnout yesterday was a little down while Republican turnout again broke records.

INSKEEP: Here's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Donald Trump keeps on winning and confounding the Republican Party establishment with his broad coalition of voters and his geographical reach. Yesterday, he won states from Vermont to Alabama and everywhere in between.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: This has been an amazing evening. Already we've won five major states, and it looks like we could win six or seven or eight or nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah, yeah.

LIASSON: Instead of a traditional victory party, Trump held a press conference at his own Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Asked about the Republican Party's angst at his rise, he said, in essence, I'm the best thing that ever happened to the GOP.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Our party is expanding, and all you have to do is take a look at the primary states where I've won, and just look where we've gone from X number to a much larger number. That hasn't happened to the Republican Party in many, many decades. So I think we're going to be more inclusive, I think we're going to be more unified, and I think we're going to be a much bigger party, and I think we're going to win in November.

LIASSON: Indeed, Republican turnout continued breaking records yesterday. Democratic turnout stayed below 2008 levels. Trump has upended a lot of the other candidates' plans. Ted Cruz, for instance, once saw Super Tuesday with its abundance of Southern states as a firewall. But last night, he only won in three places.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: Thank you, Texas.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: God bless the Lone Star State.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: And God bless the great state of Oklahoma.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: At the Redneck Country Club in Houston, Cruz, who also won the Iowa caucuses, laid out his case.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CRUZ: So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump's path to the nomination remains more likely, and that would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives and for the nation. And after tonight, we have seen that our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Cruz called on the other candidates to drop out and rally behind him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CRUZ: For the candidates who have not yet won a state, who have not racked up significant delegates, I ask you to prayerfully consider our coming together, uniting.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: That is the only way to beat Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: That message was directed at Marco Rubio and the others who remain Cruz's challengers for the anti-Trump slot. Rubio has the backing of the Republican establishment, and last night, for the first time, he did finally win a state, Minnesota. He told his supporters he'd keep on taking on Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: We are so excited by what - how lies ahead for our campaign. You see, just five days ago, we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner so far in this race. Five days ago, we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Rubio and Trump have been sparring for a week now, trading schoolyard insults. Last night, Trump predicted he would defeat Rubio on March 15 in Rubio's home state of Florida.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: He is a lightweight as I've said many times before. But you know what? We're going to go to Florida, and we're going to spend so much time in Florida. We've got about a 20-point lead. I know that a lot of groups, a lot of the special interests and a lot of the lobbyists and the people that want to have their little senator do exactly as they want, they're going to put $20 or $25 billion into it over the next two weeks from what just came over the wires.

LIASSON: There are Republican super PACs gearing up for a multimillion-dollar drive to stop Trump or at least to try to deny him the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination. But the party is of many minds when it comes to Donald Trump. Some Republicans have endorsed him, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who stood stone-faced behind Trump at his press conference last night. Other Republicans have said they could never support Trump and are looking at forming a third party. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former supporter of Jeb Bush, said that it might be time for the party to rally around Ted Cruz. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson supports Rubio, but he says he will support whoever wins the nomination, even though he worries about Trump's effect on GOP candidates for other offices.

ASA HUTCHINSON: We need a candidate in November that brings people together and does not divide, does not alienate the minorities, and that impacts Senate candidates and governor candidates, so there is a concern about that. He would certainly have to change between now and the November election, and I don't have much confidence in Donald Trump changing.

LIASSON: On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders was unable to win enough delegates to slow Hillary Clinton's march to the nomination. He held his victory party with the voters who gave him his biggest margin of the night in his home state of Vermont.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNIE SANDERS: You know, we want to win in every part of the country. That goes without saying. But it does say something. It means so much to me that the people who know me best, the people who knew me before I was elected, who knew me as mayor and knew me as congressman and know me as senator have voted so strongly to put us in the White House. Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Hillary Clinton was the Democrats' big winner.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: What a Super Tuesday.

LIASSON: Clinton already has Bernie Sanders in her rearview mirror and Donald Trump straight ahead.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: It's clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher, and the rhetoric we're hearing on the other side has never been lower. Trying to divide America between us and them is wrong, and we're not going to let it work.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Instead of building walls, Clinton said, we're going to break down barriers. Donald Trump was also looking ahead to the general election. Once we get all of this finished, he said, I'm going to go after one person, and that's Hillary Clinton. Mara Liasson, NPR News, Washington.

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