WASHINGTON (JTA) — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump moved closer to a general election face-off with a string of primary victories.
Trump won primaries Tuesday in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina and was running neck and neck with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in Missouri. Clinton picked up victories in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio and held a slight edge over Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, in Missouri as of early Wednesday morning.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., suspended his campaign Tuesday. Winning Florida, his home state, was critical to keeping alive Rubio’s hopes for the presidency.
“While it is clear that we are on the right side, this year we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio said.
Rubio’s departure would leave Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Cruz as the only candidates in a position to oust Trump from the front-runner spot, although their options are narrowing. Kasich defeated Trump in his home state.
Kasich’s win, together with victories that Cruz has accrued throughout the primaries, could yet keep Trump from acquiring the necessary number of delegates to clinch the nomination, resulting in a brokered convention in July — meaning the delegates could vote negotiate among themselves to pick the Republican presidential nominee.
Sanders had effectively ceded Florida to Clinton, focusing more on the three Midwestern states in hope of reprising his surprise victory last week in Michigan. His losses on Tuesday will make overcoming Clinton’s substantial delegate lead all the more daunting for Sanders, the first Jewish candidate to win nominating contests for a major party.
The Clinton and Rubio campaigns had major drives to get out the vote in Florida’s Jewish community.