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Hotly contested nominations may be decided on Super Tuesday

The 2016 presidential race has reached its first real climax as Super Tuesday arrives. With the largest number of delegates up for grabs on a single day, Tuesday’s primaries can make or break a campaign. Tens of thousands of voters across a dozen states rally to put their favorite candidate on the ballot, while Democratic and Republican contenders alike make their final pitches for support.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    All signs point to a big Super Tuesday for the leaders of the Republican and Democratic presidential packs. They're hoping to roll up so many wins tonight that party opponents will fall by the wayside.

    In turn, those opponents spent their day hoping just to hang on.

    SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today is the big day. Today is the day we have been waiting for, for a year.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And the prize at the end of the day, more than 860 delegates for Democrats and almost 600 for Republicans.

    But GOP front-runner Donald Trump was sure enough of his Super Tuesday showing that he turned to states that vote in the coming days and weeks.

    In Columbus, Ohio, he again took jabs at Republican rivals, Marco Rubio.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: I call him little Marco, little Marco.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And Ted Cruz.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    Lying Ted. We will build a wall. Anything you do, you take a position, and then you see him on television when he's not around you and he says exactly the opposite of what your position is.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The two senators hoping at least to slow Trump's momentum answered in kind. Cruz voted with his family in Houston, and appealed to his fellow Texans.

  • SEN. TED CRUZ:

    If you don't want Donald Trump to be your nominee, if you're among that 65 percent of Republicans who recognize that Donald Trump could be a disaster as the nominee, then I ask you to join us.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Rubio sounded the same theme in Andover, Minnesota, this afternoon.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: Today, the front-runner, at least according to national polls in the Republican primary is someone who is preying on your anger, is someone who is preying on fear. And there has never been, in the history of mankind, a great movement that has been based on fear and on anger. Donald Trump will be an embarrassment to America, will be an embarrassment to anyone who supported him.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    On the Democratic side, with Hillary Clinton out in front, Senator Bernie Sanders went home to Vermont to vote, and assess his chances of holding back the Clinton tide.

    SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (VT-D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I am confident that if there is a large voter turnout today across this country, we are going to do well. And if there's not, we're probably going to be struggling. But I hope that there will be millions of people coming out, and participating in what I call the political revolution.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But the leaders in the two races are increasingly turning their gaze on each other as likely opponents in November. Trump laced into Clinton today and the continuing furor over her handling of e-mails as secretary of state.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    Hillary Clinton cannot do the job, number one. Number two, she shouldn't be allowed to do the job because what she did was a criminal act. She shouldn't be allowed to run.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    A few minutes later, Clinton fired back in Minneapolis, and again condemned Trump's initial refusal to reject endorsements by white supremacists.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Democratic Presidential Candidate: I was very disappointed that he didn't disavow what appears to be support from David Duke and from the Ku Klux Klan. That is exactly the kind of statement that should be repudiated.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Back in Washington, that same issue weighed on Republican leaders, eying their party's prospects if Trump leads the ticket.

    SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), Majority Leader: Senate Republicans condemn David Duke, the KKK, and his racism. It has nothing — that is not the view of Republicans that have been elected to the United States Senate, and I condemn his comments in the most forceful way.

    REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), Speaker of the House: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party doesn't prey on people's prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan said he still plans to support the eventual Republican nominee. But an Associated Press survey found more than half of GOP senators and governors are not yet saying if they will do the same.

    We will get reports from key states voting today and analysis after the news summary.

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