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Trump Claims 3 Mega Tuesday Wins; Kasich Wins Ohio
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Trump Claims 3 Mega Tuesday Wins; Kasich Wins Ohio

Trump Claims 3 Mega Tuesday Wins; Kasich Wins Ohio

Trump Claims 3 Mega Tuesday Wins; Kasich Wins Ohio
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Republican Donald Trump won big again last night, but Marco Rubio dropped out after losing Florida. John Kasich stayed alive by winning Ohio. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton held onto Ohio.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Donald Trump had a big day, though he lost this state, Ohio, and he still faces many doubters. Hillary Clinton did not generate wild enthusiasm, but she had another big day as well, taking Ohio, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and potentially Missouri, though that state is still too close to call. Neither front-runner has wrapped up the nomination, but each now has some space to turn against the other. Here's NPR's Mara Liasson.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Florida was the biggest prize for the Republicans. A winner-take-all state, it gave 99 delegates, despite the millions of dollars in advertising spent against him which Trump called false, vicious and horrible. Trump called on the Republican Party to unify behind him and suggested they already were.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: We've had such incredible support. Paul Ryan called me the other day, tremendous call. I spoke with Mitch McConnell today. We had a great conversation. The fact is we have to bring our party together. We have to bring it together.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We have - we have something happening that actually makes the Republican Party probably the biggest political story anywhere in the world. Everybody's writing about it. All over Europe, all over the world they're talking about it. Millions of people are coming in to vote.

LIASSON: Trump's event last night was described as a press conference, but he took no questions from reporters, who were kept at the back of the ballroom at Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf club behind rows of Trump supporters seated in gold-painted banquet chairs. Instead, Trump lobbed a few insults at the press and then left the stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: Lies, deceit, viciousness, disgusting reporters, horrible people...

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: Sure - some are nice. Some are nice - some really disgusting people back there though, I have to tell you. And I just want to say we're going to go forward, and we're going to win. But more importantly, we're going to win for the country. We're going to win, win, win. And we're not stopping. We're going to have great victories for our country. Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. Thank you.

LIASSON: In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton won in big diverse states that will also be battlegrounds in the fall. And that allowed her to look past the fight with Bernie Sanders and toward a general election contest with Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States...

(BOOING)

CLINTON: ...When he embraces torture, that doesn't make him strong. It makes him wrong.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Bernie Sanders spoke to an enthusiastic crowd in Phoenix, Ariz., and delivered his standard stump speech. He spoke for nearly an hour but never mentioned the night's results. On the Republican side, there was one big speed bump for Trump. He lost Ohio to John Kasich, whose home state win was his very first victory. Kasich has criticized Trump for encouraging violence at his rallies. Last night, he said he would not take the low road to the highest office in the land.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN KASICH: And all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart. But I want you to know something - we're going to go - we are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Kasich's win makes it much harder for Trump to collect the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP convention this summer. But it's not mathematically possible for Kasich himself to win the nomination. Marco Rubio, the charismatic young Hispanic senator from Florida who was once seen as the future of the GOP, fell victim to Donald Trump's antiestablishment campaign. And last night, he dropped out of the race. Rubio said playing to people's fears is not what's best for America.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARCO RUBIO: The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party. They're going to leave us a fractured nation. They're going to leave us as a nation where people literally hate each other because they have different political opinions.

LIASSON: Ted Cruz didn't win any state outright last night. But he still has the second-highest number of delegates. Cruz called on Rubio's supporters to switch to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TED CRUZ: Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination - our's and Donald Trump's. Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.

(APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: Trump didn't get the sweep he needed to wrap up the nomination. Last night's results means he's not unstoppable. But he still has the clearest path to the nomination of any of the candidates left in the race. Many establishment Republicans feel Trump would be a disaster for the GOP, but they aren't happy about Cruz either. Later this week, a group of conservatives will meet in Washington to discuss the possibility of running a third-party candidate. Meanwhile, the race moves on to Arizona, Idaho and Utah, which all vote next Tuesday. Mara Liasson, NPR News, Washington.

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