Donald Trump took another step closer to the Republican nomination with crushing victories in Florida and Illinois, and a narrower victory in North Carolina, cementing his GOP front-runner status while sending one of his rivals to the showers.
In Missouri, the race went down to the wire between Cruz and Trump, but projections suggested the billionaire finished slightly in front as the vote went into Wednesday morning.
The tiny margin of less than one per cent means Cruz could challenged the result.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s suspended his White House campaign after surrendering his home state. Trump tipped his hat to the man 25 years his junior, and then slammed him for spending so much money to try to defeat him.
'I want to congratulate Marco Rubio on having run a really tough campaign,' Trump told a crowd of socialites and journalists at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. 'He's tough. He's smart, and he's got a great future.
'But I have to say, nobody has ever, ever in the history of politics, received the amount of negative advertising I have,' Trump carped.
Most of it, he claimed, was 'false, vicious, horrible'.
'It added up to over $40million' in Florida alone, Trump said. 'And you explain it to me, because I can't. My numbers went up!'
'We're going to do a lot of trips over the next month,' he pledged. 'And we're going to have a lot of great victories.'
Ohio Gov. John Kasich won in his home state, offsetting what might otherwise have been a devastating night for the rest of the GOP field.
Missouri's primary contest remained too close to call as the night wore on but it looked likely that Trump would win there, too. With 99 per cent of votes counted, he held an edge of just 0.3 per cent over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who – like Rubio – won no primaries all night.
The spread in Mizzou was less than 2,500 ballots out of more than 873,000 cast.