Carson appears set to drop out of presidential race

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Ben Carson Sees No 'Political Path Forward' in Presidential Race

(Reuters) - Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson appeared set to end his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday after failing to win a single state despite a short-lived surge of support last fall in the early-voting state of Iowa.

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"I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening's Super Tuesday primary results," Carson said in a statement. He said he would also skip the next Republican debate, scheduled for Thursday night in Detroit.

I have decided not to attend the Fox News GOP Presidential Debate tomorrow night in Detroit. Even though I will not be...

Posted by Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Carson signaled his withdrawal after Donald Trump consolidated his lead in the Republican race with a string of victories on Tuesday, but failed to eclipse his rivals or draw reluctant party leaders into his corner.

Carson drew the national spotlight to him in October when he pushed past Trump among party voters in some opinion polls in Iowa, which kicked off the state-by-state presidential nominating contests in February.

RELATED: Ben Carson on the campaign trail

37 PHOTOS
Ben Carson on the campaign trail
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Carson appears set to drop out of presidential race
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson gestures while speaking during a town hall at Abundant Life Ministries in Jefferson, Iowa, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
MT. AYR, IA - JANUARY 22 : Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is introduced during his 'Trust in God Townhall' campaign stop January 22, 2016 in Mt. Ayr, Iowa. Carson, who is seeking the nomination from the Republican Party is on the presidential campaign trail across Iowa ahead of the Iowa Caucus taking place February 1. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson walks through the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, after holding a town hall. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson smiles during an interview with The Associated Press in his home in Upperco, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks during a campaign event at Cobb Energy Center Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson speaks during a town hall meeting at Winthrop University on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015, in Rock Hill, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a rally Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a Liberty University Convocation in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. As retired neurosurgeon Carson has risen in the polls, media reports have revisited his accounts of acts of violence as a child, a key part of the redemption story he discusses on the campaign trail. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media before speaking at a gala for the Black Republican Caucus of South Florida at PGA National Resort on November 6, 2015 in Palm Beach, Florida. Carson has come under media scrutiny for possibly exaggerating his background and other statements he has made recently. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson greets well-wishers during a campaign stop, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 16: Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson (L) eats a piece of pizza while touring the Iowa State Fair on August 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a campaign stop, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, in Lakewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson greets audience members after speaking at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Seven in 10 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say Donald Trump could win the November 2016 election. That compares to 6 in 10 who say the same for retired neurosurgeon Carson, who, like Trump, has tapped into the powerful wave of anti-establishment anger defining the early phases of the 2016 contest. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
LAKEWOOD, CO - OCTOBER 29: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a news conference before a campaign event at Colorado Christian University on October 29, 2015 in Lakewood, Colorado. Ben Carson was back on the campaign trail a day after the third republican debate held at the University of Colorado Boulder. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks outside the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity at Iowa State University during a campaign stop, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, left, laughs as he wife, Candy Carson, waves to the crowd after saying a few words to the crowd supporting her husband in front of supporters Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson greets audience members following a town hall meeting, Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Carson is promoting a book he has co-authored with his wife Candy Carson entitled 'A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties.' (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Scenes around the the Value Voters Summit on September 25, 2015 in Washington DC. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson takes the stage at the event. Dr Carson speaks to the media after the speach. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attendees wait for Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, not pictured, to arrive during a campaign stop at the birthplace of the Michigan Republican Party in Jackson, Michigan, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Carson, the third candidate in the Republican race to have never held elected office, saw his numbers drop following the debate last week. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a presidential forum sponsored by Heritage Action at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson during a speech to the Commonwealth Club public affairs forum Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a rally in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is interviewed in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson stands for a photo with a fairgoer at the Iowa State Fair Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, listens as he attends a service at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Carson will be speaking at the Iowa State Fair, which is expected to host 18 presidential candidates and runs until Aug. 23. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks to hundreds of supporters at the Inaugural Basque Fry at Corley Ranch in Gardnerville, Nev. on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Lance Iversen)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson participates in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, July 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, right, speaks with pollster Frank Luntz at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, Saturday, July 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, eats a slice of pizza as he tours the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Carson doubled down on his assertion that a speech given by President Barack Obama intended to sell the American public on his nuclear deal with Iran contained 'coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at the National Sheriffs’ Association presidential forum, Tuesday, June 30, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is greeted by supporters during a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Boone, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, left, talks with Republican presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson during the Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln Dinner, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson speaks at Manchester Community College, Sunday, May 10, 2015, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks in town hall meeting in Baltimore Md., Thursday May 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Ben Carson announces his candidacy for president during an official announcement in Detroit, Monday, May 4, 2015. Carson, 63, a retired neurosurgeon, begins the Republican primary as an underdog in a campaign expected to feature several seasoned politicians. (Photo/Paul Sancya)
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But he saw his support drop after a series of missteps in some of his comments about national security in the aftermath of the attacks in San Bernardino, California and Paris.

Carson's withdrawal would leave four candidates vying to be the Republican nominee in the Nov. 8 election to replace Democratic President Barack Obama, winnowing down a field that was once crowded and is now clearly dominated by Trump.

Data curated by InsideGov

The New York real estate tycoon proclaimed himself a "unifier" on Tuesday night after he won seven states from centrist Massachusetts to the conservative Deep South in the contests to pick a party nominee.

READ MORE: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn: 'Donald Trump is what this country needs

That fell on deaf ears as his White House rivals were unbowed and the Republican establishment unwilling to accept him as their standard-bearer for November.

"If this was anybody else as a front-runner, there'd be people right now saying 'Let's all rally around the front-runner,'" said U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who won his first state contest, Minnesota, on Tuesday.

"That will never happen with Donald Trump," Rubio, favorite of the Republican establishment, told Fox News on Wednesday. "On the contrary."

The Super Tuesday wins cemented Trump's front-runner status. The 69-year-old political newcomer went into the busiest day of the primary season with a hefty lead in national opinion polls and victories in three of the first four Republican contests.

Data curated by InsideGov

His latest wins compounded the problem for a party whose leaders are both critical of many of Trump's positions and values and skeptical he can defeat the likely Democratic nominee in November, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While they have yet to coalesce around a single strategy, anti-Trump Republicans have begun taking action. Conservative advocacy group Club for Growth claimed credit for slowing Trump in some primary states by running attack ads.

Some party donors - including hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise chief executive - organized a phone call on Tuesday to get funding for an anti-Trump effort, the New York Times reported.

The party's 2012 nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has weighed in against Trump, speculating about a "bombshell" in the billionaire's tax returns. Romney scheduled a speech for Thursday about the state of the race, media reported.

SEE MORE: Republican Romney to make 'major speech' on 2016 presidential race

But one of Trump's former rivals in the 2016 race, Mike Huckabee, admonished Republicans for not respecting the will of the voters.

"The establishment Republicans are all bed-wetting over this and they don't seem to understand that we have an election," the former Arkansas governor said on Fox News. "Let's remember that we have an election process not a selection process."

Trump responded to the furor against him, saying in a tweet on Wednesday, "The special interests and people who control our politicians (puppets) are spending $25 million on misleading and fraudulent T.V. ads on me."

RELATED: Photos from Super Tuesday

48 PHOTOS
Super Tuesday 2016 across the country
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Carson appears set to drop out of presidential race
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts to supporters as she arrives to address supporters at her Super Tuesday election night rally in Miami, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, accompanied by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, takes questions from members of the media during a news conference on Super Tuesday primary election night in the White and Gold Ballroom at The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Voters arrive at a Democratic caucus late Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Denver. Colorado is one of 12 states casting votes for party nominees on Super Tuesday, which offers candidates the chance to garner the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Voters gather for the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., laughs as he arrives with his wife Jane Sanders, and his son Levi Sanders to a primary night rally in Essex Junction, Vt., Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives at a campaign rally, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Miami, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Republican presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich, speaks about his Super Tuesday primary results following a Central Mississippi Republican Party fund raising dinner in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Precinct captain Christa DeHerrera, left, puts a band on voter Janell Lindsey after she checked in at a Democratic caucus late Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Denver. Colorado is one of 12 states casting votes for party nominees on Super Tuesday, which offers candidates the chance to garner the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her Super Tuesday election night rally in Miami, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks on Super Tuesday primary election night at the White and Gold Ballroom at The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a primary night rally in Essex Junction, Vt., Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cheer as they watch election returns at her Super Tuesday election night rally in Miami, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: A Georgia voter leaves Taylorsville Town Hall after voting on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
Voters participate in the Democratic presidential caucus at North High School in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Colorado voters are caucusing to decide between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Colorado is one of a dozen states holding 'Super Tuesday' presidential caucuses or primaries. / AFP / Jason Connolly (Photo credit should read JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN- MARCH 1: Caucus goers wait in line to cast their vote at a Democratic party caucus site at Jefferson Community School on Super Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. High turnout has caused long lines and wait times for voters all around Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
Six-year-old Layla Dempsey, bottom, talks with her father, Stephen, as he checks in with the judge of his precinct at a Democratic caucus late Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Denver. Colorado is one of 12 states casting votes for party nominees on Super Tuesday, which offers candidates the chance to garner the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Voters check in with precinct captains at a Democratic caucus late Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Denver. Colorado is one of 12 states casting votes for party nominees on Super Tuesday, which offers candidates the chance to garner the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Hours before polls open, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer prepares brochures to be distributed to Sanders supporters reminding them to vote, on Tuesday morning, March 1, 2016 in Austin, Texas. The local Sanders campaign mobilized over 40 volunteers in a grassroots effort to canvas Austin neighborhoods before dawn. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
WHITE, GA - MARCH 01: 81-year-old Helen Free, left, a polling site assistant manager, takes a lunch break while two Georgia voters fill out voting paper work before casting their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in White, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
ADAIRSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: 'I'm a Georgia Voter' stickers sit in a basket at a fire station on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Adairsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
MIDDLEBURY, VT - MARCH 01: People vote at a polling station on March 1, 2016 in Middlebury, Vermont. Thousands of Americans across the country are participating in Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the 2016 primary season. Thirteen states and one territory are participating in Super Tuesday: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa. This years election, with strong candidates on both the left and the right, is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and divisive in recent history. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
SHOAL CREEK, AL - MARCH 1: Mike Maroney, of Shoal Creek, wears an 'I Voted' sticker during the Super Tuesday election at the Shoal Creek Community Center March 1, 2016 in Shoal Creek, Alabama. The rural center has about 70 voters and most had voted before lunch time. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Hal Yeager/Getty Images)
TAYLORSVILLE, GA - MARCH 01: Edna Martinez wears a 'I'm a Georgia Voter' sticker after casting her ballot at Taylorsville Town Hall on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016, in Taylorsville, Georgia. Voters head to the polls to cast their votes on Georgia's presidential primary. (Photo by Branden Camp/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 1: Voters line up to cast their ballots on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. 13 states and American Samoa are holding presidential primary elections, with over 1400 delegates at stake. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Signs are seen on a chair to assist voters at Centreville High School in Centreville, Virginia March 1, 2016, during the Super Tuesday primary voting. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
John Echeverria uses the new automatic voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 01: Poll workers verify voters' photo indentification cards before they are allowed to cast a ballot inside the Arlington County Fire Station 10 during Super Tuesday voting March 1, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Virginia, one of a dozen states holding presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
I Voted stickers rest on a voting machine at a polling station in Strafford, Vermont, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Voters wait in line to cast their Super Tuesday ballots at a polling station located at the University Co-op in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Voters from Vermont to Colorado, Alaska to American Samoa and a host of states in between were heading to polling places and caucus sites on the busiest day of the 2016 primaries. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Tess, a Basset Hound and Collie mix, looks up at voters as her owner Lindsay Greco, right, casts her ballot in the Georgia primary election at a polling site in a firehouse Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
MONTAGUE, MA - MARCH 01: Poll workers use a manual, crank operated, ballot box to collect ballots on March 01, 2016 in Montague, MA. Officials are expecting a record turnout of voters in Massachusetts, one of a dozen states holding Super Tuesday presidential primaries or caucuses. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
A voter walks in to cast her ballot during Alabama's primary at a polling site, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Birmingham, Ala. Voters from Vermont to Colorado, Alaska to American Samoa and a host of states in between were heading to polling places and caucus sites on the busiest day of the 2016 primaries. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A voter casts a ballot in Georgia's primary election under the hole of a slide pole at a polling site in a firehouse Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves as he leaves a news conference after voting in the Vermont primary at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington, Vermont, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)???
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his wife Jane Sanders, stand up after voting in the Vermont primary at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington, Vermont, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)???
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes a ballot to vote in the Vermont primary at the Robert Miller Community and Recreation Center in Burlington, Vermont, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)???
Volunteer election clerk Allie Green Jr. searches for places to post voting signs outside of a Fiesta Mart supermarket, a polling location, before polls open in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. Democrats will vote in 11 states and American Samoa, with 865 delegates up for grabs. Some states have contests Tuesday for only one party. (AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa)
Voters stand in line to await voting at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Tameika Ogburn, a polling site assistant manager, raises her hand during a swearing-in with fellow workers at a polling site before it opens to voters casting ballots in Georgia's primary election Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Voter stickers are seen on a desk at the McGee Community Center on March 1, 2016 in Conway, Arkansas. Americans began voting in the crucial Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in what is deemed the most critical day in the presidential nominating process. The first state to open its polling stations was Virginia at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read MICHAEL B. THOMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man walks into the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A voter marks his ballot at the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A woman wears an "I voted" sticker after voting in Massachusetts' primary election in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Voters from Vermont to Colorado, Alaska to American Samoa and a host of states in between were heading to polling places and caucus sites on the busiest day of the 2016 primaries.(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
A 'Polling Place' sign stands outside the Madison Activities Center polling location in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. On Super Tuesday, more delegates will be awarded than on any other day of the presidential race. About half of the delegates needed for a Republican candidate to win the nomination are at stake, plus about a third for Democrats. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A stack of 'I voted' stickers are seen March 1, 2016, at one of the Virginia primary election polling stations at Colin Powell Elementary School, in Centreville, Virginia. Voters in a dozen states will take part in 'Super Tuesday' -- a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). / AFP / PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A voter leaves a polling station for Massachusetts' primary election in the East Boston neighborhood of Boston, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Voters from Vermont to Colorado, Alaska to American Samoa and a host of states in between were heading to polling places and caucus sites on the busiest day of the 2016 primaries. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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'DARKEST FORCES'

Democrats pounced on the chaos.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called Trump a "monster" the Republicans spawned with their years of rancorous opposition to all major Obama administration initiatives.

"Republicans created him by spending seven years appealing to some of the darkest forces in America," Reid said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

On the Democratic side, Clinton, 68, took big steps toward securing her party's nomination on Tuesday, the 2016 campaign's biggest day of state-by-state nominating contests.

Her victories in seven states were propelled by African-American voters in southern states including Texas, Virginia and Arkansas, home of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton's rival, U.S Senator Bernie Sanders, won his home state of Vermont along with Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma, vowed to pursue the battle for the nomination in the 35 states yet to vote.

Data curated by InsideGov

Trump's main rivals, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Rubio, 44, said they were determined to remain in the race.

Cruz, 45, won Texas and Oklahoma, as well as the Alaska caucuses, bolstering the conservative senator's argument that he has the best chance of stopping Trump.

Trump holds a lead in the race to lock down delegates who pick the nominee at the party convention in July. He has secured 316 delegates, according to a New York Times count, ahead of Cruz's 226. Carson has won just eight delegates.

A nominee needs 1,237 delegates to win and the race could heat up with March 15 contests in Florida and Ohio. There are 99 delegates at stake in Florida and 66 in Ohio, and in both states, the winner takes the whole haul.

Facing strong party disapproval over his ideas to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, deport 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country, Trump declared he had expanded the party by drawing in disaffected blue-collar Democrats who like his tough-on-trade rhetoric.

"I am a unifier," he said in Florida on Tuesday night. "I would love to see the Republican Party and everybody get together and unify, and when we unify, there's nobody that's going to beat us."

The country's top two elected Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, chastised Trump this week over his delay in disavowing an endorsement by David Duke, a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Trump insisted he had disavowed Duke and said he did not know Ryan well but was sure they would get along.

"And if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price, OK?" the former reality TV star added in remarks that could further inflame party tensions. Ryan's representatives said they would not comment.

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