Donald Trump swept primaries in five Northeastern states on Tuesday, moving closer to winning the Republican presidential nomination as he easily defeated rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
Trump scored victories in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, U.S. television networks projected. His margin of victory in each state appeared to be even larger than in his home state of New York a week ago, a major show of strength that sets the stage for a potentially pivotal battle next week in Indiana.
lthough the race remains fluid, Trump's wins made it less likely that Republicans would choose their nominee for the Nov. 8 presidential election at a contested convention in July in Cleveland, an outcome seen by Cruz and Kasich as their only chance at the nomination.
"They should drop out because frankly they have no path to victory," Trump told a Time interviewer at a magazine event in New York honoring influential Americans.
Cruz, already looking ahead to Indiana's Republican primary on May 3, addressed a crowd in that state just as polls were closing in the Northeastern states.
"I got good news for you: Tonight, this campaign moves back to more favorable terrain," the U.S. senator from Texas said in Knightstown, Indiana, inside the high school gymnasium made famous by the underdog movie, "Hoosiers."
Cruz and Kasich, the Ohio governor, have formed an anti-Trump alliance in an effort to stop the New York billionaire from reaching a first-ballot victory at the July convention.
Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, a Trump supporter, said the deal between Kasich and Cruz would backfire because it smacked of backroom politics.
(Reporting by Luciana Lopez and Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson, Jeff Mason, Alana Wise and Megan Casella in Washington; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)