Trump and Clinton poised for bruising battle to November ballot
Favourites move closer to presidential title fight with decisive victories in the north east
Hillary Clinton has 88 per cent of the delegates needed to win the Democratic belt and she leads in the polls in California. Photograph: Eric Thayer/The New York Times
Even their victory-party music after decisive state wins in the north-east on Tuesday night pointed to how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are only just starting to prepare for a bruising title fight in November’s presidential election.
The billionaire Republican walked to his podium at Trump Tower in New York to Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton arrived on stage in Philadelphia to Eye of the Tiger from the Rocky movies, set in the same city where Democrats will pick their nominee in July.
Clinton (68) did not deliver a knock-out blow to her surprisingly hard-hitting opponent, Bernie Sanders, but her victories in four of the five north- eastern states voting on Tuesday – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware – all but rule him out as a contender for the Democratic title.
Sanders (74) won Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, but was unable to overcome Clinton’s support among women and minorities, which has won her four of the five biggest Democratic states in terms of delegates: New York, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Mrs Clinton has 88 per cent of the delegates needed to win the Democratic belt and she leads in the polls in California, the biggest prize, which votes on June 7th.
The former first lady’s clear lead among delegates is pretty much insurmountable, a fact that Sanders appeared to concede when he said late on Tuesday that he looked forward to the remaining 14 contests being “issue-oriented campaigns”.
In Tuesday’s “Acela Primary” he dealt a heavy blow to his Republican challengers, Texas senator Ted Cruz (45) and Ohio governor John Kasich (63), and the “Never Trump” campaign that hopes to stop him.
The property mogul and reality TV star was the candidate who on the night compared himself with a boxer, delivering a knockout blow.
“When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision,” he said, defiantly claiming the Republican presidential title before he knows whether he will reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination.
His delegate haul on Tuesday makes that more likely given that he is expected to perform better in Indiana next Tuesday, West Virginia on May 10th and in New Jersey and delegate-rich California on the final day of state primaries on June 7th.
“I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” he proclaimed.
Yesterday, Cruz refused to accept Trump as the inevitable nominee, telling reporters in the car park of an Indianapolis pancake house: “They’re desperate for it to be over because this campaign has moved into much more favourable territory.”
Trump gave a taster of the battle to come against Clinton on Tuesday, jabbing her on Bill Clinton’s North America free trade deal – “it was a disaster for this country” – and questioning her strength, stamina and standing among women, declaring that she would be “a horrible president”.
“If Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 per cent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her,” said the brash businessman, refusing to drop his caustic rhetoric.
We can expect more aggressive shadow boxing and low blows before the likely marquee fight between the two in November.