Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton cruised to big victories in the crucial Arizona primaries, but rivals Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders spoiled the party somewhat, with Cruz taking Utah and Sanders Utah and Idaho.
With his easy victory in Arizona’s winner-take-all primary, Trump added another 58 delegates to take his tally of delegates to 739, while closest rival Cruz slowed Trump’s momentum somewhat by adding 40 delegates to his tally of 425 with his victory Tuesday in Utah.
A strong victory in Utah with its sizable Mormon population with more than 50 percent vote gave Cruz all the state’s 40 delegates but he failed to narrow the gap with Trump in the race for 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.
As the results trickled in, Trump was in the midst of a Twitter battle with Cruz over an ad featuring a nude picture of his.
He threatened: “Lyin’ Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!”
Cruz responded by saying that the ad was not from him and if he went after his wife, then Trump was a “coward”.
“Pic of your wife not from us. Donald, if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought. #classless,” Cruz tweeted.
On the Democratic side, front-runner Clinton won the biggest state of Arizona with a sizeable minority population.
Although rival Sanders won the other two nomination contests in Idaho and Utah, she chose to devote her victory speech in Seattle Tuesday night to hitting Trump, saying he’d incite “more fear”.
“This is not just a contest between different candidates. This is a contest between fundamentally different views of our country, our values and our future,” Clinton said.
Sanders who has suggested his fortunes would change when the Democratic contest moved West, easily won the Idaho and Utah caucuses night.
Analysts suggest Sanders could sweep three upcoming Democratic caucuses on Saturday in Washington state, Alaska and Hawaii, where the only Hindu-American member of the US House Tulsi Gabbard has been one of Sanders’ highest-profile surrogates.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN the campaign has mapped out a path to the nomination that doesn’t require him to run the table in the remaining states.
“We have a path to victory. It’s not an easy path, but it never has been an easy path,” Weaver said.