Trump sweeps all 5 GOP primaries; Clinton takes 4 Democratic contests, Sanders wins one

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primaries in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island, giving the billionaire businessman a major boost in a critical night as he shut out his opponents in the five contests held Tuesday night.

Hillary Clinton  won the Democratic presidential primaries in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, further solidifying her footing in the race against Bernie Sanders. Sanders won Rhode Island.

The former Secretary of State entered Tuesday's five primaries having already accumulated 82 percent of the delegates needed to win her party's nomination. While she can't win enough delegates to officially knock Sanders out of the race this week, she can erase any lingering doubts about her standing.

Clinton told more than 1,300 people gathered at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Tuesday night that said she would be back with the most votes and pledged delegates and promised that "we will unify our party to win this election and build an America where we all rise together."

Clinton focused criticism on the Republican candidates, rather than primary opponent Sanders. She made a pitch to voters outside the Democratic Party, suggesting some may not be happy with the Republican options.

"If you are a Democrat an independent or a thoughtful Republican you know that their approach is not going to build an America where we increase opportunity or decrease inequality," Clinton said.

Trump's win in Pennsylvania, the biggest prize in Tuesday's five contests, lends a boost to his embattled campaign which is facing a growing challenge from rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich who announced this week that they are teaming up to thwart his rise.

While the Republican winner in Pennsylvania gets 17 delegates up front, the other 54 are directly elected by voters. They are allowed to support any candidate they choose at the national convention, but their names are listed on the ballot with no information about whom they support, meaning that voters who haven't studied up on their choices will be voting blind.

Ted Cruz says the race for the White House is now moving back to more "favorable terrain" like Indiana.

Cruz chose to speak Tuesday night in Indiana, instead of any of the five Northeastern states that were voting Tuesday.

Cruz spoke on the floor of a nearly 100-year-old basketball court where the 1986 film "Hoosiers" was shot. Cruz referenced the film about a small town team's underdog victory in the state tournament, saying "There is nothing that Hoosiers cannot do."

Cruz is hoping to rebound next week in Indiana and is focused on campaigning in the state ahead of its May 3 primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is voicing optimism he'll do well in Tuesday's presidential primaries but says "we are handicapped" because the states in play don't allow independents to participate.

Sanders declared on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday that "I don't want to break the bad news to you, but the election is not over yet."

The Vermont senator said "we are going to fight all the way to the Philadelphia convention." But when pressed on whether he'd continue in the race even if rival Hillary Clinton secures enough delegates for the nomination, he said, "We are going to fight through California and then we'll see what happens."

Sanders issued the following statement after Tuesday night's primaries:

“I congratulate Secretary Clinton on her victories tonight, and I look forward to issue-oriented campaigns in the 14 contests to come.

“I am proud that we were able to win a resounding victory tonight in Rhode Island, the one state with an open primary where independents had a say in the outcome. Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats. I am proud of my campaign’s record in that regard.

“The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be. That’s why we are in this race until the last vote is cast. That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”