Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton edge one step closer to presidential battle with resounding victories


The race for the Republican presidential nomination is over - so says Donald Trump.

The Republican front man has romped to victory in five more state primaries - Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware - and afterwards declared himself the party's "presumptive nominee".

The candidate most likely to become his rival in the battle for the White House - Hillary Clinton - claimed wins in four Democratic races, but lost Rhode Island to her party contender Bernie Sanders.

Both candidates' victories have boosted their delegate total, taking them one step closer to clinching their party's presidential nomination.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a primary night news conference (Julie Jacobson/AP/PA)
(Julie Jacobson/AP/PA)

Speaking at a victory rally in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Trump said: "It's over. As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

Meanwhile, his Republican rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich have formed an alliance to try to stop Trump reaching the 1,237 delegate figure he needs to secure the nomination.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a rally at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown, Indiana (Michael Conroy/AP/PA)
(Michael Conroy/AP/PA)

Cruz has been campaigning in Indiana ahead of next week's vote. It's one of his best chances to slow Trump down, and Kasich's campaign has pulled out of the state to boost Cruz's chances.

Trump has called his rivals' pact a "faulty deal" and said efforts to push the nomination contest to the party convention are evidence of a rigged process that favours insiders.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a primary night press conference  (Julie Jacobson/AP/PA)
(Julie Jacobson/AP/PA)

Trump continues to divide opinion in his party. In Pennsylvania, exit polls showed nearly four in 10 Republican voters said they would be excited by Trump becoming president, but a quarter said they were scared by the prospect.

Six in 10 Republican voters in Pennsylvania said the campaign has divided the party, whereas seven in 10 Democratic voters in the state said the race between Clinton and Sanders has energised the Democrats.

With Clinton's latest four victories, she now has 88% of the delegates she needs to become the first woman nominated by a major party.

Hillary Clinton celebrates her victory (AP/PA)

Clinton urged Sanders's supporters to help her unify the Democratic Party and reached out to Republican voters who may be unhappy with their party's options.

Speaking in Philadelphia, where the Democrats will gather in July for their nominating convention, she said of the Republican candidates: "If you are a Democrat, an independent or a thoughtful Republican, you know that their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality."

Former President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton embrace at her presidential primary election night rally (Matt Rourke/AP/PA)
(Matt Rourke/AP/PA)

Sanders conceded he has a "very narrow path" if he wants to become the Democratic candidate, adding: "We're going to have to win some big victories." Clinton has 2,141 delegates while Sanders has 1,321.

Sanders has vowed to stay in the race until voting ends in June. He is raising millions of dollars and attracting big crowds, including on Tuesday night in West Virginia where he told his supporters: "You are powerful people if you choose to exercise that power."

According to exit polls, less than a fifth of Democratic voters said they would not support Clinton if she gets the nomination.