Steamrolling to a string of Super Tuesday victories, Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump has vowed to beat Hillary Clinton in November’s election.
The real estate billionaire took a stride towards his party’s White House nomination with seven projected victories after votes took place in 12 US states.
Mr Trump is expected to win Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont.
Arch-conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz breathed a sigh of relief after a crucial win in his home state of Texas and in Oklahoma.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican party favourite, was the projected winner of his first contest in the 2016 race for the White House – the Minnesota caucuses.
During a victory rally in a chandeliered ballroom at his seaside resort Palm Beach, Florida, Mr Trump congratulated Mr Cruz, but scorned “lightweight” Mr Rubio.The tycoon told supporters: “Once we get all of this finished, I’m going to go after one person and that’s Hillary Clinton.”
He added: “We have politicians who truly, truly, truly don’t know what they’re doing.”
Mr Trump was flanked by former rival New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who endorsed him last week.
Profile: Donald Trump
In the Democratic race, front runner Hillary Clinton was projected to win seven states, while her rival, Bernie Sanders, is expected to take four.
Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have still not won any contests for the Republican nomination.
Candidates are vying to win delegates who will vote for them at the parties’ conventions in July.
After Tuesday’s voting, Mr Trump was leading with 274 delegates, Mr Cruz had 149, Mr Rubio was on 82, Mr Kasich 25 and Mr Carson eight.
Some 1,237 delegates are needed for a candidate to win the Republican nomination.
Party leaders fear Mr Trump will ruin their chances of recapturing the White House after President Barack Obama’s two terms.
The tycoon has repeatedly courted controversy with inflammatory outbursts.
But on Tuesday he sought to defuse claims he is too divisive, insisting he was a “unifier” who would grow the party.
Mr Cruz, meanwhile, argued he is the only Republican who can beat “profane and vulgar” Mr Trump.
The Texas senator “prayerfully” suggested candidates who have not yet won a state bow out.
Mr Rubio, speaking at a rally at his hometown of Miami, called Mr Trump a “con artist”.