PALM BEACH, Fla. U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump scored a crucial win in the Florida primary on Tuesday, striking a potentially fatal blow to rival Marco Rubio's campaign and moving closer to securing the party's nomination as five U.S. states voted.
Trump was aiming to sweep all five states on Tuesday, including Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois, and deal another setback to establishment Republicans who fear his rowdy campaign will lead the party to defeat in November.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 68, also captured the Florida primary as she aimed to put some distance between herself and rival Bernie Sanders, 74, a U.S. senator from Vermont, in primaries in the same states.
Trump, the 69-year-old billionaire businessman, was aiming to knock out his two mainstream rivals, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Rubio, a U.S. senator from Florida, who probably need to win their home states to keep their campaigns alive. His closest challenger nationally is U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, 45, a Tea Party favourite.
A Trump loss in any of the five states on Tuesday would give new hope to Republicans battling to deny the brash New Yorker the nomination and block him from capturing the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination at the party's July convention.
(Additional reporting by Megan Cassella, Ginger Gibson and Alana Wise in Washington; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Howard Goller)
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