Republican leaders desperate to halt Trump momentum

Published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Republican leaders searched for a last-chance option that could derail Donald Trump’s momentum in the presidential nominating contest after his seven Super Tuesday victories.

While the split widened between Trump supporters and the party’s mainstream, Democrats showed increasing cohesion as Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, won seven states.

Her dominance with black voters carried her to wins across the South, although Vermont senator Bernie Sanders picked up wins in his home state and in Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado, and he vowed to fight on.

Mrs Clinton hosted a star-studded fundraiser at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall, with Sir El ton John and Katy Perry performing.

Sir Elton sang several of his hits, including Tiny Dancer. He said it was an important year for America and Mrs Clinton was “the only hope you have”.

Overshadowed by Mr Trump’s wins, Texas senator Ted Cruz rolled to a close second in Tuesday night’s delegate count with a victory in his home state.

That bolstered his case to be the party’s Trump alternative, even as rival Florida senator Marco Rubio promised to continue his fight. He hopes to win his home state on March 15.

After a poor showing in Republicans contests so far, retired surgeon Ben Carson effectively pulled out of the race, saying he saw no path forward and announcing he would not be at the next Republican debate on Thursday.

The Republican division represents the party’s biggest crisis in years, with the prospect of nominating a presidential candidate it cannot control.

Some party leaders are considering the once unthinkable option of aligning behind the conservative firebrand Mr Cruz, whom many dislike.

Others are talking of a contested convention, where none of the candidates has won sufficient delegates in primaries and caucuses to assure nomination.

Some influential power brokers even raise the option of forming a new party.

Republican leaders also fear that a Trump nomination could damage party incumbents in the Senate who could be voted out of office in swing states known to support either major party, costing Republicans their majority in Congress.

An Associated Press delegate count indicates Mr Trump will have to do better in future contests to claim the nomination before the party’s July convention.

So far, he has won 46% of the delegates awarded, and he would have to increase that to 52% in the remaining primaries.

The next round of voting in a busy March comes on Saturday, with Louisiana’s primary, Republican caucuses in Kentucky and Maine, a Democratic caucus in Nebraska and caucuses for both parties in Kansas.

Mr Trump won in Super Tuesday primary and caucus states as politically opposite as Massachusetts and Alabama, a sign of his broad, outsider appeal.

Along with Texas, Mr Cruz took neighbouring Oklahoma as well as Alaska. Mr Rubio won only liberal Minnesota.

Despite Mr Trump’s victories, many Republican leaders remained deeply sceptical he could beat Mrs Clinton in a head-to-head contest in November.

“Ted Cruz is not my favourite by any means,” South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham said. “But we may be in a position where rallying around Ted Cruz is the only way to stop Donald Trump, and I’m not so sure that would work.”

The comments came as the NeverTrump hashtag spread across Twitter.

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee four years ago, announced plans to speak on the “state of the 2016 presidential race” on Thursday in Utah.

The former Massachusetts governor has moved aggressively to take on Mr Trump in recent days, saying the billionaire’s unreleased tax returns might contain “bombshells”.

In his victory speech, Mr Trump sent a clear message to the Republican establishment, warning House Speaker Paul Ryan that if the two do not get along, Mr Ryan is “going to have to pay a big price”.

Mr Trump won at least 234 delegates on Tuesday, and Mr Cruz won at least 209. Mr Rubio was a distant third with at least 90. There were 595 Republican delegates at stake in 11 states. There were still 40 delegates left to be allocated. Securing the nomination requires 1,237 delegates.

Overall, Mr Trump leads with 316 delegates and Mr Cruz has 226. Mr Rubio has 106 delegates, Ohio governor John Kasich has 25 and Mr Carson has eight.

Mrs Clinton was assured of winning at least 457 of the 865 Democrat delegates at stake on Tuesday, while Mr Sanders gains at least 286.

When including party leaders, Mrs Clinton has at least 1,005 delegates and Mr Sanders has at least 373. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

Published: Thursday 3rd March 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search