Trump and Clinton dominated primaries, but no Missouri election result tonight


No Missouri winners tonight

The Associated Press is calling it a night instead of calling the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries in Missouri.

Our contact at the AP says there are two precincts left to be counted in Jackson County. Elections officials there, presumably, will get things sorted out in the morning.

Until then, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton hold razor-thin leads over Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders.

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The scene at Hillary Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn

It’s been a big night for Hillary Clinton, who won four out of five states, including hotly contested Ohio and Illinois. (Missouri remains too close to call.)

Her staff celebrated with a singalong at her Brooklyn headquarters.

Jake Sullivan, a senior policy advisor, got in on the action too.


Show Me State showdown


Paul Ryan for president? ‘We’ll see. Who knows.’

Would he or wouldn’t he? House Speaker Paul D. Ryan had a few answers to questions speculating he could become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee were there to be a brokered convention this summer.

First there was a “we’ll see.”

But there was also a longer explanation from the Wisconsin Republican, who was Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate in 2012, about wanting to run.

“I made that decision, consciously, not to,” he told CNBC.

And then there was the actual no.

“I don’t see that happening,” he said in the interview. “I’m not thinking about it. I’m happy where I am, so no.”

Ryan, of course, was famously reluctant to take over after former Speaker John A. Boehner’s sudden resignation last year.


Hillary Clinton wins Illinois Democratic primary

Hillary Clinton has defeated Bernie Sanders in the Illinois Democratic primary, according to new projections.

With nearly all of the votes counted, Clinton was leading Sanders by about 36,000 votes.

After Florida, Illinois has the next highest number of delegates up for grabs Tuesday, and the victory gives Clinton a boost in her effort to tie up the Democratic presidential nomination.

Track the delegate fight here.

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Trump kicks Rubio while he’s down

The Republican front-runner used one of the Florida senator’s comments to mock him after he dropped out of the presidential race.


Cruz tells GOP he’s the last, best hope to beat Trump

As Ted Cruz was locked in a tight battle with Donald Trump in the Missouri primary – the sole state the Texas senator had a chance of winning Tuesday night – Cruz argued he was the only alternative for Republican voters who did not want to support the brash businessman and reality-TV star.

“Starting tomorrow morning, every Republican has a clear choice. Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination -- ours and Donald Trump’s,” Cruz told supporters in a Houston hotel ballroom. “Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over again.”

Cruz made his remarks shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio dropped out of the presidential campaign after losing his home state of Florida, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich had a small burst of momentum after winning his home state.

Cruz implored his rivals’ supporters to join his effort, and noted that he had the best track record against Trump among all the Republican presidential candidates.

Cruz said he had won nine contests “all across the country, from Alaska to Maine.” And he harshly attacked the GOP front-runner as a politician who had failed to stand with conservatives, notably on Supreme Court appointees, Israel and the Iranian nuclear deal.

“Do you want a candidate who shares your values, or a candidate who has spent decades opposing your values,” Cruz said. “… It’s easy to talk about making America great again; you can even print that on a baseball cap. But the critical question is whether you understand the principles and values that made America great in the first place.”

Cruz repeated his campaign pledges to repeal President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, abolish the IRS and crack down on illegal immigrants before arguing that Trump was akin to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“Far too many politicians focus on Washington, D.C. To the lobbyists, those like Donald Trump who buy influence, and to those like Hillary Clinton who sell influence, Washington is the center of the universe,” he said. “But we understand that isn’t right. Together, we will make Washington less relevant in all of our lives.”

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Did Donald Trump’s poll numbers rise after last fall’s terrorist attacks as much as he says?

Donald Trump said Tuesday that after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino last year, his campaign took on a “whole new meaning” and his poll numbers began to rise.

“The meaning was very simple: We need protection in our country,” Trump said at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla. “And that’s going to happen. And all of a sudden the poll numbers shot up, and I’m just very proud to be a part of this.”

As is often the case with Trump, his claims exaggerated reality.

While Trump’s support was at 24.8% in the RealClear Politics average of national polls on Nov. 13, the day of the deadly attacks in Paris, his numbers ticked upward in the weeks following the attacks, reaching 27.8% support on Nov. 28. The increase was far from “sudden,” nor could the boost, itself not far off the margin of error in most of the polls, be fairly described as having “shot up.”

Trump’s proposals on protecting the country, however, have gained support.

In the wake of both terrorist attacks, Trump called Dec. 7 for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., after investigators determined that both attacks were inspired by Islamic State extremists. A few polls, including a Fox News survey released Dec. 18, found that a majority of respondents supported his proposal, which was condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike.

On Tuesday night, Trump insisted the country needs to “start winning again” – a theme of his campaign.

“This country is going to start winning again. We don’t win anymore,” he said.

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A confident Ted Cruz focuses on winning the GOP nomination


Donald Trump assails GOP critics for ‘vicious, horrible’ attack ads

After winning three more primaries on Tuesday, Donald Trump hammered the Republican groups that have spent millions of dollars on attack ads aimed at blocking him from clinching the party’s presidential nomination.

“Nobody has ever, ever in the history of politics received the kind of negative advertising that I have,” he told supporters at his posh Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach, Fla.

“By the way, mostly false,” he said. “I wouldn’t say 100%, but about 90%. Mostly false. Vicious, horrible.”

Trump, who branded Sen. Marco Rubio “little Marco” over the last few weeks as the two traded scathing insults, congratulated the senator for running ”a really tough campaign.”

“He’s tough, he’s smart, and he’s got a great future,” Trump said, not long after Rubio ended his candidacy.

Trump also gloated over his double-digit victory in Florida.

“This is my second home, Florida,” he said. “To win by that kind of a number is incredible.”

Trump also used the occasion of his latest victory speech – he has won 18 states so far – to reflect on the punishing ordeal of running for president.

“There’s nothing like it,” he said. “Lies, deceit, viciousness. Disgusting reporters. Horrible people. Some are nice.”

Using a new variation of his campaign slogan, the Manhattan billionaire said, “We’re going to make our country rich again. We’re going to make our country great again, and we need the rich in order to make the great, I’m sorry to tell you.”


Is Bernie Sanders still talking?


Sanders says he’s most electable; Democratic voters think otherwise

For weeks, Bernie Sanders has pointed to public polls to rebut Hillary Clinton’s claim that she’s the most electable Democrat against Donald Trump. And he’s right, based on the RealClear Politics averages (here and here).

But Democrats in the states voting Tuesday appear to have come to a different conclusion. Across the board, they say Clinton has the best chance to defeat the Republican front-runner.

  • Florida: 75% of Democratic voters said Clinton was most electable; 20% said Sanders
  • Illinois: 64% Clinton, 34% Sanders
  • Missouri: 57% Clinton, 40% Sanders
  • North Carolina: 67% Clinton, 28% Sanders
  • Ohio: 64% Clinton, 33% Sanders

And so perhaps it’s no surprise that Clinton seemed eager to pivot to the general election in her remarks Tuesday, laying out the stakes still to come and separating the grind of the campaign from the greater challenges of governing.

“Every candidate makes promises like this,” she said after a quick summary of her economic platform. “But every candidate owes it to you to be clear and direct about what our plans will cost and how we’re going to make them work. That’s the difference between running for president and being president.”

She quickly pivoted to foreign policy, saying the next commander-in-chief needed “to defend our country, not embarrass it; engage our allies, not alienate them; defeat our adversaries, not embolden them.”

“When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong,” Clinton continued, alluding to some of Trump’s core proposals and slogans without naming him.


Donald Trump wins North Carolina GOP primary, strengthening his hold on Southern states

Donald Trump won the North Carolina primary, completing a near sweep of the Deep South in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump’s North Carolina victory follows his win earlier in Florida, the night’s biggest delegate prize with 99.

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Unbowed, Bernie Sanders keeps up fire on Hillary Clinton

(Sean Rayford / Getty Images)

The news was grim for Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, with Hillary Clinton on track to widen her lead in the Democratic presidential primary.

But Sanders, the senator from Vermont, did not seem chastened by the results, ignoring them while speaking at length to rapturous supporters in Phoenix.

“Do not settle for the status quo when the status quo is broken,” he said.

And though Clinton briefly praised Sanders for running a “vigorous campaign” in her own speech in Florida, Sanders repeated some of his toughest criticisms of Clinton in his own hourlong remarks.

He blasted Clinton for voting in favor of the war in Iraq and repeated his demand for her to release the transcripts of speeches she was paid to deliver on Wall Street.

Sanders also criticized Clinton for taking campaign donations from Wall Street and oil companies.

“This campaign is doing well because we are listening to the American people, and not just wealthy campaign contributors,” he said.

Sanders reiterated some of his boldest proposals, including a $15-per-hour minimum wage, universal healthcare provided by the federal government and free education at public colleges.

“Think outside of the box, outside of the status quo,” he urged supporters.


Donald Trump wins Illinois GOP primary days after canceling Chicago rally amid violence

Donald Trump won the Illinois primary Tuesday, four days after racially tinged violence at a Chicago rally that he was forced to cancel led rivals to accuse him of poisoning America’s political climate.

Trump’s victory will give him the largest share of Illinois’ 69 delegates, a significant haul in his bid to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

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Kasich going to Philadelphia, but he may not make the Pennsylvania ballot

As the last moderate, establishment Republican standing, John Kasich might do well in Pennsylvania’s primary next month -- a victory there would be key to any hope he has of stopping Donald Trump.

That’s why in his victory speech Tuesday night in Ohio, Kasich announced he would be flying to Philadelphia the next day.

But first, he has to keep his name on the ballot.

To get on the Pennsylvania ballot, a candidate has to submit a petition with 2,000 valid signatures. Usually, candidates submit many more than the minimum because some share of signatures typically turns out to be invalid.

But Kasich’s campaign turned in only 2,184 signatures, and that may not have been enough.

Back in February, Nathaniel Rome, a college sophomore and the head of Pennsylvania Students for Rubio, filed a challenge to Kasich’s petition.

Since then, two facts have emerged: More than 184 of Kasich’s signatures probably aren’t valid, and Rome’s challenge may have been filed 13 minutes too late to meet the legal deadline.

A Pennsylvania court is hearing arguments over whether the legal deadline was 5 p.m. or midnight. Final briefs are due on Wednesday. In the meantime, Kasich aides over the weekend reportedly asked Rubio aides to persuade Rome to withdraw his challenge.


An optimistic John Kasich vows to push ahead after defeating Trump in Ohio

Ohio Gov. John Kasich vowed on Tuesday after winning his home state to remain positive in the weeks ahead as he seeks to blunt some of the momentum of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

“I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich, reprising a line he’s used often on the campaign trail, told an exuberant group of supporters at Baldwin Wallace University in the suburbs of Cleveland. “I’m getting ready to rent a covered wagon; we’re going to have a big sail and have the wind blow us to the Rocky Mountains and over the mountains to California.”

With Kasich’s victory -- he secured Ohio’s 66 delegates – aides insisted he’s well-positioned as the primary race heads into the spring and with Sen. Marco Rubio’s exit from the race on Tuesday.

Still, Trump far outpaces Kasich when it comes to total delegates.

In his roughly 15-minute victory speech, Kasich did not directly mention Trump. Earlier in the day, after casting his ballot, Kasich said he would take on Trump more forcefully.

“I will be … forced, going forward, to talk about some of the deep concerns I have about the way this campaign has been run by some others — by one other in particular,” he said, alluding to Trump who in recent days has assailed Kasich on such issues as trade and job creation.

But for Kasich, Tuesday night was about striking an optimistic tone as he moved forward.

Speaking in the suburbs of Cleveland, where the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention this summer, Kasich – ever the optimist – said his campaign will be ready.

“We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination,” he said to deafening applause.


Even at Marco Rubio’s election night party, not everyone voted for him

Marco Rubio conceded loss quickly on Tuesday, telling a crowd of supporters in his hometown of Miami that he was dropping out of the Republican presidential race after losing his home state to Donald Trump.

Within an hour, the room where Rubio delivered his remarks was deserted, save a cleaning crew and a handful of journalists.

Rubio, who began his campaign with considerable backing from the Republican establishment, ended it after failing to convince voters of his Reaganesque message that the best days of America are in the future.

That dynamic was evident even at his own election night party, where several supporters acknowledged that they like Rubio -- well enough to show up to his event -- but didn’t actually cast ballots for him.

Michael Marston is one of them.

Marston, a 28-year-old marketing executive, said he liked Rubio’s message and the way he comported himself on the campaign.

“He’s a good man,” Marston said. “He has a positive message. I think he set a good example.”

Yet Martson voted for Trump.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind him,” Marston said. “There’s a movement.”

And that, Marston said, is what it will take for a Republican to take the White House in November.


The most intense confetti explosion so far tonight


Looking to November, Hillary Clinton emphasizes unity

After collecting the biggest prizes in Tuesday’s Democratic primary contests, including Florida, Hillary Clinton sounded very much like a candidate ready for the general election.

“This is another super Tuesday for our campaign!” a scratchy-voiced Clinton exclaimed at her primary night rally in West Palm Beach. “Thank you, Florida. Thank you, North Carolina. Thank you, Ohio.”

The Ohio win may be her most significant of the night, blunting criticism that she had weak support in the industrial Midwest after her surprise loss to Bernie Sanders in Michigan last week.

And while the Democratic primary is still ongoing--she congratulated Sanders for a “vigorous campaign” and asserted she is “closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election”--the bulk of Clinton’s comments took aim at GOP front-runner Donald Trump and sought to appeal to key general election voters.

She said voters should look for a president who could “bring our country together,” a veiled jab at Trump’s disparaging comments about Mexicans, Muslims and women, among other groups.

Later, she explicitly blasted Trump’s pro-deportation approach to immigration and embrace of torture.

“That doesn’t make him strong, it makes him wrong,” she said.

But her speech incorporated many of the same themes Trump has been hammering, including increasing jobs.

She said she had a plan for “more good jobs in infrastructure, more good jobs in manufacturing, more good jobs in small businesses, more good jobs in clean, renewable energy.”

She vowed to take on the signature targets of Sanders’ and Trump’s campaigns: “We’re going to stand up for American workers, and make sure no one takes advantage of us. Not China, not Wall Street, and not overpaid corporate executives.”

The rally, held Tuesday evening at the West Palm Beach convention center, featured a live band playing Latin pop hits in a nod to the South Florida locale.

Clinton addressed a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters, who cheered news of her wins and booed word of Trump’s Florida victory in nearly equal measure.

Jorge Cristobal Fermin, 80, said he wasn’t surprised that Florida swung so decisively toward Clinton.

“At the very least, Latinos are all with Hillary,” he said in Spanish.

Fermin, who runs a Dominican American organization in Miami, said his reason for supporting Clinton was simple: “I’m a grandfather.”

He said he liked the example Clinton was setting for his grandchildren.

“We need to show young people that we can’t go backwards,” he said.

Staff writer Michael A. Memoli in Washington contributed to this report.


Cruz hanging close to Trump in early Missouri vote totals

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Watch Marco Rubio’s full speech suspending his campaign: ‘There’s nothing more you could have done’


John Kasich’s campaign sends memo to supporters

Aides to Ohio Gov. John Kasich have stressed that his home state’s primary would be a reset to his campaign.

Though Kasich won all of Ohio’s 66 delegates, GOP front-runner Donald Trump far outpaces him in delegates overall.

But moments after his victory, Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, outlined a path forward in an optimistic memo to supporters.

Among Weaver’s points in the memo:

  • Kasich’s positive message and proven record can overcome the Donald Trump insult machine.
  • With a narrowing field, Kasich is the candidate best positioned to go toe-to-toe in the remaining states.
  • Of the three remaining GOP candidates, only Kasich will defeat Hillary Clinton in an electoral college landslide, sweeping in other Republicans from the courthouse to the Senate.

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After big wins, Hillary Clinton signals she’s moving toward general election


John Kasich wins Ohio GOP primary, tripping up Donald Trump’s march to nomination

Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the Republican presidential primary in his home state, a major blow to the candidacy of front-runner Donald Trump.

Ohio is the first state where Kasich has won, but his victory in the winner-take-all contest for 66 delegates will make it harder for Trump to capture the 1,237 he needs to clinch the nomination before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July.

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Dispatches from election day

What are you seeing in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri?

Tweet your photos to @latimespolitics

A friend voting in Columbia, Mo. -- one of the more liberal areas of the state as home to Mizzou -- said there was a small but steady flow of voters at the polls over lunch. He was voter No. 594.

And in a reminder that all politics is indeed local, also on the ballot there is a trash cart ordinance.


Clinton’s Ohio victory a blow to Sanders

Hillary Clinton has defeated Bernie Sanders in the Ohio Democratic primary, according to new projections.

The result is a blow to Sanders, who used the same strategy that propelled him to victory last week in Michigan to campaign in Ohio: Attack Clinton’s pro-trade record in an industrial Midwestern state whose manufacturing jobs were decimated in part by global trade policies.

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Rubio: ‘This year, we will not be on the winning side’

Marco Rubio launched his bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination with a bold promise that “yesterday is gone,” an optimistic message from a young, charismatic son of Latino immigrants who many believed would be the face of the GOP’s future.

But Rubio’s team never anticipated a candidate like Donald Trump. And the Florida senator’s uneven performance on the campaign trail did little to convince Republican voters and donors that Rubio was the best alternative to the billionaire, even as party leaders clamored for one.

Rubio announced Tuesday he was suspending his campaign, seeing no path forward after failing to win his home state and the 99 delegates he desperately needed to emerge as a viable challenger to Trump.

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Clinton prevails in North Carolina

Hillary Clinton has won North Carolina, according to new projections, continuing her string of victories in Southern states, where black voters make up a big share of the Democratic electorate.

Her success in the region allows her to keep building her delegate lead over Bernie Sanders as she pursues the nomination.

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Rubio: ‘Don’t worry, he won’t get beat up at our event’

Sen. Marco Rubio started his remarks by congratulating Donald Trump on his victory in Florida.

We live in a republic and voters make these decisions.

— Rubio, on why he respects the result in Florida

America is in the middle of a real political storm. We should have seen this coming.

— Rubio, going on to say people are angry and frustrated

Don’t worry, he won’t get beat up at our event.

— Rubio, after protesters interrupted him

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Ted Cruz is failing to make big gains on Donald Trump

Ted Cruz has so far failed to pick up big wins Tuesday, a blow to his efforts to make gains on Donald Trump’s stride to the Republican nomination for president.

He lost in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois, with only Missouri offering a possible bright spot.

But the night wasn’t a total loss.

Cruz, the conservative Texas senator, was second in delegates heading into Tuesday’s contests and he will scoop up more in states where they are awarded proportionally.

The narrow defeat in North Carolina, in particular, offered a snapshot of his status: Cruz will still amass needed delegates, but he has a tough road ahead as the campaigns move north and west into states less aligned with his conservative and Christian message.

Winning, of course, is always best. And a victory in any of the states voting Tuesday would give Cruz more momentum as he tries to make the case he is best positioned to beat Trump.

But coming in a close second in this race of delegate math counts too.


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win Florida primaries

Donald Trump won the Florida primary, picking up its 99 delegates in a winner-take-all contest and vanquishing rival Marco Rubio in what was a must-win for the senator on his home turf.

Hillary Clinton won the state’s Democratic presidential primary over Bernie Sanders, as was widely expected.

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And now some Ohio details


Florida turns out to not be Marco Rubio country tonight

And they didn’t see surprised about it, either.


Clinton party features Latin pop artists


Donald Trump isn’t waiting for the votes to be counted


Losing Florida leaves Marco Rubio with few options

A loss for Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida to Donald Trump leaves his once-bright campaign with few options for continuing to pursue the party nomination for the White House.

Rubio, the Florida senator, promised Tuesday to stick to his schedule with campaign stops in Utah on Wednesday and California later in the week.

But he also said just days ago that “the winner of the Florida primary will be the nominee.”

Fundraising is likely to dry up despite fundraisers still being scheduled for the weeks ahead.

And the delegate math has left Rubio hopelessly behind billionaire front-runner Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Rubio’s campaign had trouble countering the Trump juggernaut, and he struggled to appeal to a broad swath of voters beyond young suburban professionals.

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Get your context right here!

Our data team is annotating the results as they roll in from each state.

Get smart quick.

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Full results from tonight’s contests


More voters see Clinton having a better shot of advancing her agenda

For Democrats looking to read early tea leaves about Tuesday’s results, some findings from the early run of exit polls in the five states voting Tuesday point to another tense night for the Clinton campaign.

In Florida, a state where Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite, a clear disparity emerged among Democratic voters as to whether they consider the two candidates’ policies realistic. More than three of four voters said Clinton’s were, but fewer than half said that of Sanders, according to exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and the television networks.

But in two other closely contested states, the difference is narrower. In Illinois and Missouri, about two-thirds of voters thought Sanders’ policies were realistic; again, three of four Democrats thought the same of Clinton’s.

Those results are similar to what voters said in Michigan last week, where Sanders narrowly defeated the former secretary of State in a major upset.

On another question, Democratic voters in Ohio were more likely than those in other states to say that trade with other countries cuts U.S. jobs. In Michigan last week, 57% of Democratic voters agreed with that statement, and that cohort voted heavily for Sanders.


Clinton campaign sends a warning


Confidence in Kasich campaign


Senate leader tells Trump to say no to violence

I mentioned to him that I thought it would be a good idea for him, no matter who starts these violent episodes, to condemn it and discourage it.

— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a phone call he had with Donald Trump


Flying the crowded skies of Florida’s presidential primary

When Hillary Clinton landed in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday, her private jet was sharing the tarmac with another, more famous plane.

It was Donald Trump’s, immediately recognizable from the Republican candidate’s last name emblazoned so prominently on the side.

“So I guess that means he’s here, right?” Clinton told reporters during a brief stop at a Dunkin’ Donuts. She laughed when asked what kind of vibes she got from the plane Trump uses to make grand entrances at his events. “I just looked at it as we drove by,” Clinton said.

Both Clinton and Trump are in the Palm Beach area for primary night events, just a few miles apart.

Trump will be at his Mar-a-Lago Club, while Clinton is at a convention center.

Polls showed Trump and Clinton were both on track to win in Florida.

Clinton warned her supporters not to be complacent, however -- her double-digit lead in the polls going into Michigan’s primary last week turned into a surprise victory for Bernie Sanders.

“Everybody should make sure their votes and their voices are counted. And I stopped to get something to drink and I’m happy to be here in Florida, looking forward to what happens tonight.

Before talking with reporters, Clinton mingled with customers, including a young woman who told her, “I just cast my first ballot for you!”

“Oh, my God,” Clinton replied. “We have to get a picture. Thank you, I’m so excited!”


Former Speaker John Boehner’s seat could go to a hard-line conservative like those who pushed him out

Ohio has another notable race that will test the mood of the GOP electorate Tuesday: selecting the Republican nominee for former House Speaker John A. Boehner’s seat.

A conservative favorite, Warren Davidson, faces more than a dozen rivals, including two state lawmakers, in the right-leaning West Ohio district, raising the possibility that it will be represented by the kind of hard-liner that led to Boehner’s sudden resignation last year.

The influential Club for Growth’s super PAC, which focuses on ousting Republican members of Congress it views as insufficiently conservative, has poured almost $1 million into the race. The PAC is also battling Donald Trump.

“The winds of change are blowing,” said club President David McIntosh. He called Davidson, a former Army Ranger who now runs his family’s manufacturing business, a “breath of fresh air.”

The winner of Tuesday’s primary in Ohio’s 8th District will face the Democratic nominee in November.

The congressional race is among several that will test voter appetite for down-ticket candidates who are outsiders, like Trump.

In North Carolina, two-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr is trying to fend off a primary challenge on the right from several candidates, including Greg Brannon, a Christian conservative who was raised in South Central Los Angeles, and is now an obstetrician-gynecologist in the Tar Heel state.

Other congressional races are sprinkled across Tuesday’s primary states and we’ll be watching them all here.

As for Boehner, he has endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president, but after the candidate Boehner was said to prefer for his seat dropped out, the former speaker has largely staying out of the contest to replace him.


Marco Rubio vows to press ahead, even if he loses Florida

Sen. Marco Rubio, lagging in delegates and an underdog in Florida’s primary, vowed to press ahead in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination even if he fails to win his home state today.

“Tomorrow our plan is to be in Utah campaigning irrespective of tonight,” Rubio told the Orlando-based sports talk station WDBO on Tuesday. “It would be a lot better to go to Utah being the winner of the Florida primary.”

In several statewide surveys, Rubio trails front-runner Donald Trump in the winner-take-all primary in which 99 delegates are up for grabs.

Anyone doing the math might see that a loss to Trump in Florida could end Rubio’s candidacy. The first-term senator has amassed only a handful of wins -- Minnesota, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia -- and Trump far outpaces him in delegate totals.

While speaking in the interview on WDBO, which was first reported by BuzzFeed, Rubio dismissed polls showing him down by double digits to Trump in his home state.

“I can’t guarantee a win today. I’m telling you I expect to win tonight, but we are not 20 points behind. I mean, that’s absurd,” he said.

Follow the results tonight as polls close.

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Democrat tries to vote for Trump in Florida, but can’t

Annette Namath, a lifelong Democrat, was planning Tuesday to do something she’s never done before: vote for a Republican.

Namath, 53, arrived at the polling station at the First Baptist Church in downtown Tampa this morning ready to vote for front-runner Donald Trump.

But Namath is registered as a Democrat. And Florida is a closed primary state, meaning only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary, while the Democratic primary is limited to registered Democrats.

“I didn’t know it had to happen that way,” said Namath, a Tampa resident who works in human resources.

Namath picked up a Democratic ballot and made a choice anyway -- she declined to say whom she picked -- but she still plans on backing the real estate mogul should Trump make it to the general election.

“He’s going to shake up Washington,” she said. “He may not necessarily be the best president, but he’s the best person to shake up Washington.”

Florida’s closed primary rules not only snag voters looking to cross over from one party to the next, it also means those registered with no party preference cannot participate. (Democrats in other states, like California, actually allow unaffiliated voters to participate in the presidential primary.)

In an article today, Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab bemoaned that “more than a quarter of the state’s voters are left out.”


At one Florida polling station, the Cuban vote is split

For decades, Florida’s Cuban American voters largely embraced conservative politics, a reaction, in part, to their exile from the Communist-ruled island.

But that’s been changing in recent years, as more Cubans lean Democratic.

The rift was on display at a Miami Beach polling place a few blocks from the sand on Tuesday, as Cuban Americans cast primary votes for candidates across the political spectrum.

Tomas and Mirella Giro, a married couple who fled Cuba for the U.S. in the 1960s, said they voted for Ted Cruz.

They didn’t choose him because of his Cuban heritage, they were quick to point out, but because they believe he is more conservative than his competitors.

The Giros say they like Donald Trump, but don’t completely trust him.

“He wasn’t always a Republican,” Mirella said, as her husband nodded.

A beat later, George Hernandez walked out of the same polling station.

Also an asylum-seeker from Cuba, Hernandez said he had supported Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

“I support anyone who wants free education,” Hernandez said. “And I like that he is talking about making things more equal.”

Hernandez, an interior designer, said Sanders’ socialist economic views are very different from Fidel Castro’s. “It’s not communism,” he said. “It’s completely different.”

Hernandez said he believes Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, but said he voted for Sanders to send a message to Clinton that she should consider Sanders as her vice presidential pick.

Others cast their ballots for different reasons.

Luis Gonzales supported Marco Rubio, whom he described as “a good young man,” who makes the Cuban American community proud.

For Sozla Perez, who voted for Clinton, the issue came down to gender.

“I voted for Hillary,” Perez said. “She’s a woman, and we have to support each other.”


Obama laments ‘race to the bottom’ in campaign

As balloting continues in five states Tuesday, President Obama expressed dismay at the “vulgar and divisive” rhetoric of the presidential campaign, as well as what he called “misguided” attempts to silence it, which have resulted in violence.

The president offered one of his most public repudiations of the tenor of the campaign to date during what is traditionally a light-hearted affair -- the St. Patrick’s Day week Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol honoring the country’s prime minister. (His remarks start at 27:05 in video above.)

He worried about the effect the caustic campaigning was having on “the American brand” overseas and the example being set for young children at home.

“Too often we’ve accepted this as somehow the new normal. And it’s worth asking ourselves what each of us may have done to contribute to this kind of vicious atmosphere in our politics,” he said, acknowledging some culpability on his own part.

“While some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it,” he said. “For it is a cycle that is not an accurate reflection of America. And it has to stop.”

Obama thanked House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) for comments he made earlier in the day, in which he said everyone had an obligation to “try and provide an atmosphere of harmony, to reduce the violence, to not incite violence, and to make sure that we are appealing to people on their best ideals.”

But Obama said there has been silence from too many other leaders.

“When we leave this lunch I think we have a choice: We can condone this race to the bottom or accept it as the way things are, and sink further, or we can roundly reject this kind of behavior, whether we see it in the other party or, more importantly, when we see it in our own party,” he said.


In Florida, a vote for Donald Trump as CEO in chief

Mark Owens walked into the Florida sun after casting a ballot for Donald Trump and lit a cigar.

He was in a celebratory mood. Trump, who Owens believes is the nation’s best chance at salvation, has been performing well in polls here, and Owens was confident that he would come out ahead in Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary.

A businessman who owns five companies and moved several years ago from Ohio to Miami beach, Owens believes that Trump will run the United States like a company.

“I just think he’s better prepared to help America economically,” Owens said. “America can’t even run the post office. When the government runs things, it loses money. When a businessman runs thing, he makes money.”

Trump, he said, echoing words from the candidate, would be a better “deal-maker” than previous presidents, whether it comes to trade or foreign relations.

His wife, an immigrant from Russia who cannot vote, supports Trump because she believes that he would improve relations with Russian President Vladamir Putin, he said.

Both men, he said, are “very strong leaders who are not politically correct.”

And a little political incorrectness is what America needs, he said.

“We’ve trusted politicians for 200 years to run our country,” he said. “It’s time to give someone else a shot.”


Donald Trump wins delegates in Northern Mariana Islands


From Columbus, voter voices in the key primary state of Ohio


All eyes are on Ohio -- or should be

Voters in five states go to the polls today in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.

On the Republican side the most important of the bunch is Ohio, a perennial fall battleground that could go a long way toward sorting out the GOP primary contest.

That explains why Donald Trump, after assailing “little Marco” Rubio and “lyin’ Ted” Cruz, has lately turned his sights on the state’s governor, presidential rival John Kasich.

And why Kasich, who has started hitting back after avoiding the sniping others engaged in, has emerged as an unlikely savior for the Republican Party establishment.

For Kasich, it’s win or stay home. For Trump, an Ohio victory could go a long way toward clinching the nomination.

A Trump defeat here would push Republicans closer to a contested nominating convention in July--which, as it happens, will be held in Cleveland.


Sheriff Joe Arpaio crashes Jane Sanders protest at his jail

Jane Sanders visited Arizona on Monday to protest its infamous “tent city jail,” where undocumented immigrants are detained in un-air-conditioned tents in an intensely hot part of the state -- and she was unexpectedly invited in for a tour by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The fiercely anti-immigrant sheriff, who has boasted about giving stray animals air-conditioned cells as undocumented immigrants suffered in the desert heat, tweeted that he invited Bernie Sanders’ spouse inside, “so I could defend my tent policy. Now waiting for Hillary.”

Jane Sanders was not impressed. In a statement, she said that Arpaio made no excuses for prisoners at the facility having to live outside in heat that can reach 130 degrees, and that he boasted about removing meat from the prisoner meals and having inmates work on chain gangs.

“What I saw and heard firsthand today by visiting with the families and seeing tent city was very disturbing,” Sanders said. “Sheriff Arpaio did not even attempt to explain or excuse his inhumane treatment of people of color - not that he could.”

Arpaio, who has endorsed Donald Trump for president, opened his tent city jail in 1993, and activists have been demanding it be shut down since. In July, he issued a spirited defense of the facility, on its 22nd anniversary.

“If Tent City is as bad as critics and activists say, why have four U.S. presidential candidates visited the tents during campaign stops?” Arpaio said in the release. “No presidential candidate would step foot in Tent City if it truly was the cruel and inhumane jail my critics claim it to be.”


Hillary Clinton calls out Donald Trump, says he’s inciting ‘mob violence’

Hillary Clinton arrives at a campaign event with the Chicago Journeymen Local Plumbers Union.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton on Monday accused Donald Trump of inciting “mob violence” at his campaign rallies across the country.

Speaking at an MSNBC town hall, the Democratic presidential front-runner called the rhetoric of her Republican counterpart “divisive” and concerning given that it comes from someone running for the presidency.

She said Trump not only uses scapegoating, fear and offensive comments in his statements, he fuels a dangerous environment.

“People remember mob violence that led to lynching,” Clinton said when asked about how African Americans react to Trump. “People remember mob violence that led to people being shot, being grabbed, being mistreated.”

At a campaign event in North Carolina on Thursday, Trump responded to the allegations that he provokes violence by calling his rallies “love fests.”


Ben Carson says Trump is GOP’s most ‘practical’ chance to win White House

Ben Carson endorses Republican front-runner Donald Trump in Florida.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he initially wanted to endorse one of the other GOP candidates, but settled on Donald Trump as the most “practical” choice, with the best chance of beating Democrats in November.

“Is there another scenario that I would have preferred? Yes, but that scenario isn’t available,’’ Carson said, referring to the difficulties faced by Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz in winning the GOP nomination and the general election.

“Even if Donald Trump turns out not to be such a great president, which I don’t think is the case, I think he’s going to surround himself with really good people,” Carson said on Newsmax TV. “We’re only looking at four years as opposed to multiple generations and perhaps the loss of the American dream forever.”

He noted that he and Trump exchanged negative words a few months ago, but said he likes to consider the big picture — Trump can rally Republican voters.

The former GOP candidate also confirmed that Trump offered him a position as an advisor, but didn’t clarify the role.

“We haven’t hammered out all the details, but it is very important that we work together,” he said.


Can Trump be stopped? 5 things to watch for in the big primaries Tuesday

Donald Trump’s advance toward the Republican presidential nomination hits a crucial milestone Tuesday as voters in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina cast ballots in the first big primaries since violent clashes erupted last week at his campaign rallies.

For Hillary Clinton, Tuesday’s test will be whether she has sewn up the Democratic nomination tightly enough that she can turn more fully to the general election, or if she will need to rededicate herself to beating back her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here are some of the things we’ll be watching.

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Fight for blue-collar Ohio shows how Trump and Sanders are alike and different

Job losses have carved a grievous wound into the eastern flank of Ohio, and particularly into this city halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh in what used to be America’s Steel Belt, now rusted through.

So it was perhaps not surprising to find a New York billionaire and a Vermont socialist here, where their ideologically incompatible campaigns for president meet, in their need for votes from those battered by the economy.

Bernie Sanders, the liberal Democrat, and Donald Trump, the iconoclastic Republican, made those stops Monday, the day before this state’s primary, each seeing an advantage in an area where losing a job, or losing income, remains an experience felt in many people’s bones, the residue of 40 years of bad times. Their visits were an illustration that the arc of politics can bend in strange ways, particularly this year.

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