The Latest: Clinton team begins to focus on general election

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on campaign 2016 as voters head to the polls in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland (all times Eastern):

10:35 p.m.

With just seven weeks left in the primary process, Hillary Clinton's spokeswoman says the campaign is preparing for the general election.

"It's certainly prudent at this point and necessary to prepare for a general election," Jennifer Palmieri said after Clinton won four out of Tuesday's five contests. "And we have been making preparations and will continue to do so as the next seven weeks wind down."

After Clinton made an appeal to "thoughtful Republicans" on Tuesday night, Palmieri said the campaign believes Clinton can have broad appeal.

"There's certainly not anyone in the general electorate that we don't want to feel welcome on our side," she said.

On building party unity, Palmieri said that Sanders has said he will "do whatever he can to make sure the Republican is not elected in the fall. And we take him at his word that that's what he wants to do."

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10:32 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that it's too soon for him to talk about potential vice presidents, but says he's getting closer to that time.

"We're going to set up a committee in the not-too-distant future," Trump told reporters Tuesday at Trump Tower as he celebrated his five-state sweep.

Trump has been asked about rival Ted Cruz's move to vetting candidates. He says Cruz is "wasting his time."

Trump was coy when asked whether he would put Chris Christie, who is in attendance, on his short list.

"I think he's fantastic," he said of the New Jersey governor.

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10:30 p.m.

Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic presidential primary in Connecticut, wrapping up a near shutout with wins in four out of Tuesday's five contests.

The former Secretary of State entered 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.

Prior to her win in Connecticut, she was already 88 percent of the way to winning the Democratic nomination.

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10:25 p.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says in an interview with The Associated Press that his campaign has a "very narrow path" to the nomination despite losses in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware on Tuesday.

Sanders says California's primary in June is "very important to us" and he thinks every voter should have "the right to vote for whom they want to see as president of the United States."

Even though his campaign is trailing Hillary Clinton, Sanders says "we are going to fight for every delegate" to the Democratic convention to influence the party's agenda.

Sanders notes that he won in Rhode Island, which was the only state in Tuesday's contests that allowed independents to participate in the Democratic primary. He says independents will be important in the fall election and superdelegates should take that into consideration.

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10:17 p.m.

Donald Trump says that the Republican nomination contest is "over" as he turned his focus to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

"I call her crooked Hillary," he said in a speech Tuesday in New York following his five-state sweep. He said of the Republican nomination contest: "it's over. As far as I'm concerned it's over."

He vowed to do more for women than Clinton will if elected president and he reiterated his criticism of her handling of the security situation at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

He repeatedly called on Clinton's Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders, to run as an independent, saying "I think he'd do great."

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10:15 p.m.

Donald Trump is piling up the delegates on a big night Tuesday, collecting at least 105 of the 118 delegates at stake in five states.

His five-state sweep raises the stakes for the anti-Trump effort in Indiana next week. If Trump can win the Indiana primary, he will stay on a narrow path to clinch the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7.

John Kasich will win at least five delegates in Tuesday's contests -- both in Rhode Island. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, was contending for one or two delegates, also in Rhode Island.

Eight delegates are left to be awarded.

The AP delegate count:

Trump: 950.

Ted Cruz: 559.

John Kasich: 153.

Needed to win: 1,237.

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10:05 p.m.

Donald Trump says he considers himself the "presumptive nominee" of the Republican Party, despite being short of the delegates needed to claim the nomination.

Speaking after his sweep of all five of Tuesday's GOP primaries, the Republican front-runner reiterated his calls to rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich to get out of the race.

 

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