Billionaire Donald Trump appears close to winning the Republican presidential nomination after knocking out his chief rival with a critical victory in the U.S. state of Indiana on May 3.
Dramatizing how Trump's drive for the nomination may now be unstoppable, his closest contender Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race after losing in Indiana -- a state Cruz had at one time expected to win.
With Cruz out of the race, the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Preibus, declared Trump to be the party's "presumptive nominee" and urged all other Republicans to "unite and focus on defeating Hillary Clinton," in a message on Twitter.
Democrat Clinton also appeared almost certain to get her party's nomination despite a loss to rival Bernie Sanders in Indiana. She already has 92 percent of the delegates she needs to secure the Democratic nomination at a convention in July.
Trump, whose views on foreign affairs have raised alarm in some world capitals, most recently Islamabad, made it clear he views Clinton as the only remaining obstacle to ascending to the White House.
"We're going after Hillary Clinton," he said at a victory rally at Trump Tower in New York, declaring that the former U.S. senator, first lady, and secretary of state would be a "poor president."
"We're going to win in November, and we're going to win big, and it's going to be America first," said Trump, who has never held public office.
Clinton's top adviser John Podesta retorted that Trump was "simply too big of a risk" to be president.
"We are going to have a tough campaign against a candidate who'll literally say or do anything," Clinton said of Trump earlier in the day. "We're going to take him on at every turn."
Among Trump's recent stands on international matters, the real estate mogul has said he'd aim to work more closely with Russia while he would threaten to withhold aid from Pakistan to force Islamabad to free a doctor who helped the United States find and kill former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
After collecting most of Indiana's 57 delegates, Trump now has 1,047 of the 1,237 delegates he needs to ensure victory at the GOP's nominating convention in July.
He only needs to win about 200 more delegates or 42 percent of those being allocated in state primaries between now and June 7 -- an easy feat given his performance in state elections so far.
That is why many Republican party leaders like Priebus, after having fought Trump's candidacy for months, are now conceding that he is their inevitable nominee.
Some GOP leaders, however, may refuse to unite behind Trump. AP reported that unidentified conservatives were planning to meet on May 4 and assess the viability of a third-party candidacy that would challenge Trump in the fall.
Based on reporting by AP, dpa, AFP, and Reuters