Donald Trump declared himself the Republican party’s “presumptive nominee” after sweeping the primaries in all five states that went to polls on Tuesday.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton won four of her five primaries, conceding one to Bernie Sanders. She now has 90% of the delegates she needs to secure the nomination.
Primaries for both parties were held Tuesday in Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The next big fight is in Indiana, next Tuesday.
The Tuesday sweep took Trump’s count of delegates to 950, which is 287 short of the 1,237 he needs to win the nomination. Rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich have 559 and 153 respectively.
Clinton widened her lead over Sanders to 2,137 to 1,306, including pledged and unpledged delegates, who are also called superdelegates. Their threshold is 2,383.
Though the contests not over yet, the respective front-runners appear to be gearing up for the general election, attacking each other more in remarks after the results than their party rivals.
Asked at a press conference if he now considers himself the “presumptive nominee” of the Republican party, Trump said, “I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely.”
A “presumptive nominee” is one who has been all but officially crowned a candidate, and is most certainly going to be sooner than later.
Does that mean he will start behaving himself? “If you have a football team, and you’re winning, and then you get to the Super Bowl,” he said, “You don’t change your quarterback.”
He plans to start choosing his words carefully though, and will use a teleprompter — after excoriating others for it — to deliver a major foreign policy speech later on Wednesday.
He is clearly getting ready for the general election. “It’s all over,” he said about the Republican race, arguing Cruz and Kasich are left with no path to nomination from here on: “knocked out”.
But Cruz and Kasich are not leaving. They have joined hands to try and stop Trump in the nominating contests, and take the battle to the party convention in July hoping to win it there, somehow.
Trump doesn’t, of course, believe they have much of a chance at that. And he focussed on Clinton more in his remarks, slamming her for, among other things, playing the woman card.
He said if she was not a woman, she would be nowhere in the race — not even get 5% votes — and called her “Crooked Hillary”, a term he has coined, like “Lyin’ Ted” for Cruz.
The Clinton campaign too seemed to be focussing more on the general election. “It’s certainly prudent at this point and necessary to prepare for a general election,” Clinton’s spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri said, adding, “And we have been making preparations and will continue to do so as the next seven weeks wind down.”
In her remarks to supporters, the former secretary of state said, “Imagine a tomorrow where hard work is honoured, families are supported, streets are safe, communities are strong, and where love trumps hate.”