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Clinton, Trump Score First Super Tuesday Wins

(AFP) Updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 – 5:11 PM

UPDATE: CNN has called Alabama, Massachusetts and Tennessee for Donald Trump.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump scored their first wins in pivotal “Super Tuesday” contests, US networks projected, as the frontrunners edged closer to clinching presidential nominations.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, was the projected winner in Georgia and the vital battleground state of Virginia, auguring well for her campaign as millions of votes are counted in a dozen states across the country.

Super Tuesday is the most pivotal day of the presidential primary season so far, with Clinton and Trump hoping to wipe out all rivals for their party nominations.

Bellicose billionaire Trump was projected to win the Republican contest in Georgia, and held a narrow lead over Marco Rubio in Virginia, according to early exit polls.

His success will sow yet more terror in the Republican hierarchy, which fears the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan could face electoral annihilation in November’s general election.

Trump’s main Republican rivals, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have been frantically trying to halt the real estate magnate’s march toward the nomination, seeking to unite the party against the man they see as a non-conservative political interloper.

But it might be too little too late, with polls showing the 69-year-old Trump in a commanding lead nationwide.

Clinton, coming off a blowout weekend win in South Carolina, has played down talk of a clean sweep Tuesday.

That proved to be prescient, with rival Bernie Sanders projected to win his tiny home state of Vermont.

Even as the 68-year-old Clinton made her final case to voters in Minnesota, she appeared to tilt toward the general election matchup, assailing Republicans “running their campaigns based on insults.”

Asked if Trump would be the eventual nominee, she told reporters “he could be on the path.” But “whoever they nominate, I’ll be prepared to run against (him) if I’m fortunate to be the nominee.”

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

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