By JULIE PACE and THOMAS BEAUMONT
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton triumphed Tuesday in Florida's presidential primaries, capturing the biggest prize on a crucial day of voting and showcasing the strength of the two front-runners. Trump's victory was a devastating blow to Marco Rubio, ending the Florida senator's once-promising White House campaign.
Rubio implicitly rebuked Trump throughout a speech announcing he was dropping out of the race, imploring Americans to "not give in to the fear, do not give in to the frustration."
Rubio, a favorite of Republican leaders, is the latest candidate to fall victim to an unpredictable election cycle and Trump's unmatched ability to tap into the public's anger with Washington and frustration with sweeping economic changes.
Clinton also picked up a win in North Carolina, while Trump was locked in a close contest there with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Votes were also being counted in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, but all were too close to call as polls closed.
Republicans were keeping an especially close eye on Ohio, where Trump was locked in a close race with the state's governor, John Kasich. A victory for the billionaire businessman in Ohio could put him on the clear pathway to the GOP nomination, with few opportunities for his remaining rivals to stop his stunning rise.
In Florida's winner-take-all Republican primary, he won 99 delegates.
Clinton, too, was looking to pull away from rival Bernie Sanders in Tuesday's contests. While Clinton holds a comfortable lead in the delegate count, Sanders was eager for a burst of momentum from Ohio that could build on his surprising win last week in Michigan.
Reprising a theme that helped propel that victory, Sanders has pounded Clinton's past support for trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he says has been a job-killer in the U.S.
"When it came down whether you stand with corporate America, the people who wrote these agreements, or whether you stand with the working people of this country, I proudly stood with the workers," Sanders said during a campaign stop Tuesday in Ohio. "Secretary Clinton stood with the big money interests."