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Super Tuesday

Cruz clinches Alaska but it looks like Trump v Clinton for the US presidency

The race is getting serious.

Updated at 12:50pm

TEXAS SENATOR TED Cruz has won Republican caucuses in Alaska by a slim margin over Donald Trump today.

It was Cruz’s third victory in the Super Tuesday primary and caucus votes in a dozen states against seven wins for Trump.

Alaska in the far west was the last state to report its results.

However, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump still took a giant step toward securing the White House nominations of their parties, thumping rivals in the majority of Super Tuesday primaries.

Bellicose billionaire Trump weathered a barrage of attacks from fellow Republicans to win seven of 11 states, coming within striking distance of becoming the Republican nominee to replace President Barack Obama.

Clinton also racked up seven wins with her strategy of embracing President Barack Obama appearing to pay dividends.

She beat rival Bernie Sanders handily across a host of southern US states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas – winning big among African-American voters and reversing a 2008 primary loss in Virginia.

The former secretary of state also claimed Massachusetts, in a close race.

DEM 2016 Clinton Hillary Clinton reacts to supporters as she arrives to speak at her Super Tuesday election night rally in Miami. Associated Press Associated Press

Sanders notched wins in his tiny home state of Vermont, Oklahoma, Colorado and in Minnesota, but he now trails heavily.

Both Trump and Clinton signaled their focus is beginning to shift to the general election.

In victory remarks, Clinton attacked Trump’s pledge to “make America great again.”

“America never stopped being great!” she said to cheers from supporters in Miami.

“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.”

Trump painted Clinton – the former first lady, senator and secretary of state – as a Washington insider, who cannot address a furious electorate’s desire for change.

“She’s been there for so long. I mean if she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years,” he said.

A recent CNN/ORC poll found that both Clinton and Sanders would easily defeat Trump if the general election – set for 8 November – were held now.

But few are likely to underestimate the 69-year-old Trump after his primary rout.

Republican unease

Super Tuesday was the most pivotal day of the US presidential primary season so far, with half the Republican delegates and a third of Democratic delegates needed to win the nominations up for grabs.

Trump’s victories were widespread, from Alabama and Georgia in the deep south, to Massachusetts in the northeast, to the vital battleground state of Virginia.

The scope and scale of the victories will sow terror among establishment Republicans, who fear the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan could face general electoral annihilation.

While Trump’s rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz struggled to make the case they can still win, Trump tried to defuse an intra-party feud that may be the only serious obstacle remaining on his path to the nomination.

GOP 2016 Trump Donald Trump speaks on Super Tuesday Associated Press Associated Press

He offered an olive branch to party leaders who are fighting a rearguard action, making the case he can unify and grow the party.

“I think we’ll be more inclusive and more unified. I think we’ll be a much bigger party,” Trump said, easing up on his hallmark bombast.

However, any way you look at it, it was Trump’s night, as he won big and his two top rivals did well enough to stay in the race and thus keep their supporters divided, said Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a political newsletter published by the University of Virginia.

“Happiness for Donald Trump is a divided opposition. He’s got precisely that and it’s going nowhere for the time being,” the newsletter said.

- © AFP, 2016 

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