By Ken Bredemeier
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has dropped out of the presidential race and Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich beat front-runner Donald Trump in the governor’s home state on a day of major presidential primary elections Tuesday.
Republican Trump won Florida by a huge margin over second-place finisher Rubio, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Kasich were far behind. Trump also won the Illinois and North Carolina primaries.
Florida is a winner-take-all state, meaning Trump will get all 99 delegates without having to split them with the runners-up.
After a humiliating loss in his home state, Rubio said he was grateful to everyone who supported him, adding that it was not part of “God’s plan” that he become president in 2016, or maybe ever.
Ohio also is a winner-take-all state, and Kasich’s win over Trump will keep the governor’s campaign alive. He predicted he would be “very competitive” in the upcoming primaries, noting that there were still 1,000 delegates to be picked up.
In a dig at the often caustic Trump, Kasich said he would not take “the low road to the highest office in the land.”
But Trump did not appear to let his loss in Ohio faze him. He has a huge lead in the delegate count and said Tuesday night he is not going to stop until he wins “for the country.” In uncharacteristically mild comments, Trump said it is time to bring the Republican Party together.
Trump was locked in a close battle in the primary in the state of Missouri with Cruz, who also said this is the time for Republicans to unite. He said he welcomed to his campaign those who have supported Rubio and that “America has a clear choice going forward.”
For the Democrats, Clinton beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by landslides in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, taking most of the delegates in all three states. Illinois was too close to call.
Clinton called the day another “super Tuesday” for her, congratulated Sanders for what she said was his “vigorous” campaign, and in remarks directed at Trump said deportation of immigrants and torture were wrong and would not make America strong.
Primaries also were held Tuesday in Missouri.
Trump’s election day got off to a good start when he captured all nine GOP convention delegates at stake from the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.
In recent months, Trump has become known — and some would say infamous — for harsh comments and insulting remarks he’s made toward Muslims, Mexicans, women and his political rivals.
They include calling Rubio “little Marco” and the socialist Sanders “our communist friend.”
Name calling, shoving and fistfights between Trump supporters and anti-Trump protesters — sometimes encouraged by Trump himself — have critics decrying the overall state of American politics.
But a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, voter told VOA on Tuesday that he cast a ballot for Trump because he said the candidate “tells it like it is” and does not follow any kind of so-called political correctness.
Another Trump backer called him “the strongest candidate” and someone who has come along at the right time.