Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win big in Arizona to further cement leads

Clinton secured around 60 per cent of the Democratic vote - while Trump beat his closest rival by more than two-to-one

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The Independent US

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump further cemented their leads in their parties’ presidential races last night, with the Democratic and Republican front-runners both winning comfortably in Arizona, the biggest prize on a night of primaries named “Western Tuesday”.

Once again in this tumultuous campaign season, there were long lines at voting locations in Arizona and Utah, where both Democrats and Republicans went to the polls, as well as for the Democratic contest in Idaho.

Ms Clinton secured around 60 per cent of the Democratic vote in Arizona. Mr Trump, meanwhile, beat his closest rival by more than two-to-one, claiming some 47 per cent of Arizona Republicans to Ted Cruz’s 23, with Ohio Governor John Kasich bringing up the rear on a mere 10 per cent.

The Grand Canyon state’s 75 Democratic delegates are divided proportionally between the candidates, but Mr Trump takes all 58 Republican delegates, which are awarded on a winner-takes-all basis.

Both front-runners had less luck elsewhere on the electoral map. Mr Cruz looked set to romp to victory in the Utah caucuses with almost 60 per cent of the Republican vote, way over the 50 per cent threshold required to claim all 40 of the state’s GOP delegates. Mr Sanders appeared to have trounced Ms Clinton in Utah and Idaho, though the Democratic delegates in both states were distributed proportionally, preventing the Vermont Senator from eating into Ms Clinton’s lead.

The day’s results were overshadowed by events in Brussels, not least because three Mormon missionaries from Utah were injured in the terrorist attacks on the Belgian capital. Following the attacks, for which Isis claimed responsibility, Mr Cruz said the US ought to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalised.”

Mr Trump said he “100 per cent agreed” with the Texas Senator’s suggestion, reiterating his plan to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the US. He also advocated the torture of terrorism suspects, telling ABC News that, as President, he would reintroduce waterboarding. “I would try to expand the laws to go beyond waterboarding,” the billionaire said.

Speaking in Seattle, where she was campaigning ahead of Saturday’s Washington state caucus, Ms Clinton referred to the attacks in Brussels, sharply criticising the responses of her Republican rivals. “The last thing we need, my friends, are leaders who incite more fear,” she said. “What Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others are suggesting is not only wrong; it’s dangerous... We see people running for President of the United States who are literally inciting bigotry and violence.”

Mr Trump and Mr Cruz also traded personal insults online, after an anti-Trump super PAC released a series of Facebook advertisements in Utah, featuring a 16-year-old image of Mr Trump’s wife Melania posing naked for a magazine cover. Responding to the ad, Mr Trump threatened in a cryptic tweet to “spill the beans” on Mr Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Mr Cruz replied by pointing out that the ad had not come from his campaign, and accused Mr Trump of being “classless” and “a coward”.

With her win in Arizona, Ms Clinton once again proved her ability to pick up votes in a heavily Latino state, even though Mr Sanders had campaigned hard there. In spite of the adverse arithmetic, The Vermont Senator signalled his intention to fight to the end by campaigning last night in California, which votes on the very last day of the primary season in June. Speaking in San Diego, he assured his supporters that his “political revolution” was ongoing.