Hillary Clinton’s triumphant Tuesday

Updated 1:11 PM EDT, Thu March 17, 2016
00:48 - Source: CNN
Hillary Clinton: We're moving closer to the nomination

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Hillary Clinton: 'We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination'

Clinton's victory in Ohio on Tuesday was particularly sweet, coming one week after she suffered an unexpected loss in Michigan

CNN —  

Hillary Clinton’s triumphant victory speech Tuesday night sent a clear message to Donald Trump: Bring it on.

The former secretary of state emerged from “Super Tuesday 3” with at least four key victories in Ohio, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina and roughly 300 more delegates than her Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. In Missouri, Clinton has a narrow lead over her rival, though the race is still too close to call.

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In all, it was a jubilant evening for Clinton and her campaign after spending months fighting tooth-and-nail to keep in check Sanders’ insurgency in check.

“We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November!” Clinton said in her victory speech to supporters in West Palm Beach, Florida, her voice noticeably hoarse. “Because of all of you and our supporters across the country, our campaign has earned more votes than any other candidate — Democrat or Republican.”

Clinton turned her attention to Sanders, congratulating the Vermont senator for continuing to wage what she called a “vigorous campaign.”

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But her remarks quickly switched gears as she turned toward a different presidential candidate: Trump, the Republican Party’s front-runner.

Cautioning that sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office is the “hardest, most important” job in the world, Clinton argued that the president cannot succeed without seeking common ground. In a message that was clearly aimed at Trump and his propensity for polarizing and inflammatory rhetoric, Clinton said it was pivotal that the next president be able to “bring our country together again.”

“If we reach out to treat each other with respect, kindness and even love, instead of bluster and bigotry, if we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together,” she said.

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Clinton’s victory in Ohio on Tuesday was particularly sweet, coming one week after she suffered an unexpected loss in Michigan.

Her narrow defeat there raised questions about whether the candidate had pivoted too soon to the general election and neglected to campaign as aggressively as possible for primary victories, sparking fresh concerns about more unanticipated losses. That defeat may ultimately turn out to be an anomaly given her wins in Ohio and Illinois.

On the other side of the political aisle, Trump also had a good night.

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The New York billionaire won the Florida GOP primary, defeating Marco Rubio in his home state and forcing the Florida senator to drop his White House campaign. He also notched victories in North Carolina and Illinois. But he lost the other big contest of the evening – Ohio – to the state’s governor, John Kasich.

It’s still not a given that Trump can reach 1,237 delegates needed to outright become his party’s nominee, and Clinton and her surrogates, too, were careful not to suggest that the nomination was in the bag.

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But the results of “Super Tuesday 3” will allow both Clinton and Trump to pivot hard to the general election — and use each other to make their respective cases.

“Obviously we are concerned about a Trump candidacy, as the Republican nominee, and take that very seriously and Democrats are going to have a big fight ahead of them,” Clinton’s communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, told reporters Tuesday night. “And we believe she will be the nominee and will be prepared to take on that fight. But that is not up to us when this primary ends.”