Baton Rouge: Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders on Sunday clawed their way back into the hotly contested US presidential race by securing a pair of morale-boosting wins in a multi-state vote while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton kept their front-runner status intact by posting decisive victories in the key state of Louisiana.
In the Democratic camp, Clinton was jolted by Vermont Senator Sanders in Kansas and Nebraska but the 68-year-old former secretary of state bounced back to easily win Louisiana, seen as the big prize on 'Super Saturday'.
On the Republican side, Texas Senator Cruz scored decisive wins in the Kansas and Maine caucuses, demonstrating his enduring appeal among conservatives as he tried to reel Trump's significant lead in the Republican presidential race.
Trump, 69, contained Cruz's advances by winning in the delegate-rich states of Louisiana and Kentucky.
But the Texas Senator's wins were sure to energise the anti-Trump forces who are desperately trying to stop Trump's march to the nomination, and they left little doubt that Cruz, who has now captured six states, is their best hope.
However, with today's result Trump and Clinton consolidated their lead in the race to the White House even as their rivals gave them a tough time by winning key states.
Trump registered an impressive win in Louisiana, the home State of Indian-American Bobby Jindal, and had a narrow win in Kentucky over Cruz.
"Thank you to Louisiana, and thank you to Kentucky," Trump said in Florida after he was projected to be the winner in Kentucky, where he led Cruz by four percentage points.
Clinton, who seems set to be the first woman presidential nominee of a major political party, decisively swept Louisiana, the weekend's big prize, with 59 Democratic delegates at stake compared to 37 for Kansas and 25 for Nebraska. But Clinton lost to Senator Sanders in Kansas and Nebraska.
Senator Marco Rubio performed very poorly in all the four Republican primary states following which Trump asked him to drop out of the race.
"I have been in competition all of my life. There is nothing as exciting as this," Trump said and asked Rubio to drop out of the race following his poor performance.
"I would love to take on Ted (Cruz) one-o-one. I will win Ted one-o-one," Trump told reporters at a news conference in Palm Beach in Florida.
"Marco has to get out of the race," he said.
Trump also warned that the party establishment planning to have a third party run would be handing over the White House to the Democratic Party in a platter.
However, Cruz asserted that he is the only one who can defeat Trump and urged other candidates to drop out of the race.
Interestingly, the Super Saturday voting took place in the wake of former Republican nominee Mitt Romney's assault on Trump, which ignited a civil war within the party between establishment figures and the billionaire's army of angry 'outsider' voters, CNN commented.