03.02.2016 • WedneSday • M 2
ST. LOUIS POST-dISPaTCH • A9
Clinton, Trump solidify leads
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, addresses the crowd in Staford, Texas, as his family looks on. Cruz won primary contests in Texas and Oklahoma Tuesday night.
TUESDAY • FROM A1
Muslims and immigrants resonated with Tuesday’s Republican electorate, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research for The Associated Press and television networks. Large majorities of Republican primary voters in six states, for example, said they support Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all noncitizen Muslims from entering the United States. The results followed a wild prelude to Super Tuesday that featured extraordinary criticism from several Republican governors and senators who refused to say whether they would support their party’s front-runner should Trump win the nomination. Trump’s strong performance across much of the South was a blow to Cruz, who had long ex-
pected the South to be his firewall. Yet Cruz seized on Rubio’s struggles, calling on the GOP to unify behind his own candidacy, “the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat and that will beat Donald Trump.” With a win in Minnesota, Rubio hoped to stay competitive in the delegate count while eyeing a win in his home state of Florida on March 15. A defiant Rubio told a hometown crowd in Miami that he had only begun to attack Trump: “You see, just five days ago we began to unmask the true nature of the front-runner so far in this race,” he said, calling the GOP front-runner “a con artist.” Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson remain in the race, but neither has won any of the races since
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont arrives at a rally in Essex Junction, Vt. Sanders won contests in Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
the nominating contest began a month ago and thus neither is expected to be a major factor. Trump won at least 175 delegates in Tuesday’s contests. Cruz collected at least 89 and Rubio picked up at least 51. Kasich won at least 17 delegates and Carson won at least three. Overall, Trump leads with 257 delegates. Cruz has 106, Rubio has 67, Kasich has 23 and Carson has eight. Envisioning a Trump White House, the front-runner said he would get along “great with Congress,” despite criticism on Tuesday from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. They condemned his refusal Sunday to disavow the backing of a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Trump has since disavowed the nod. “Paul Ryan, I don’t know him
well, but I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him,” Trump said. “And if I don’t, he’s going to have to pay a big price, OK?” Signaling her confidence, Clinton set her sights on Trump as she addressed supporters during a victory rally. “It’s clear tonight that the stakes in this election have never been higher and the rhetoric we’re hearing on the other side has never been lower,” she said. Trump, too, had his eye on a general election matchup with the former secretary of state, casting her as part of a political establishment that has failed Americans. “She’s been there for so long,” Trump said in Florida on Tuesday night. “If she hasn’t straightened it out by now, she’s not going to straighten it out in the next four years.”
Clinton has steadied herself after an unexpectedly strong early challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders did carry his home state decisively, and told the crowd at a raucous victory party that he was “so proud to bring Vermont values all across this country.” Sanders, who has energized supporters with his calls for a “political revolution,” has struggled to expand his base beyond young people and liberals. His weakness with black voters, a core part of the Democratic constituency, was underscored anew. Clinton was supported by at least 80 percent of black voters in Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. She was also bolstered by women and older voters.
GOP looks aghast, helpless as Trump runs away with party ANALYSIS • FROM A1
year to 0-15. His lone victory was in caucuses in Minnesota. In several states where Rubio was running third, his percentage of the vote was low enough that he was in danger of winning few or no delegates in those places. Rubio has been described by many as the future of his party. His performance to date instead has reinforced his image as a politician who has not lived up to that potential. Despite five days of relentless attacks on Trump, which started at last week’s GOP debate in Houston and carried through a raucous weekend of campaigning, Rubio was not able to deliver signiﬁcant results. He scored well among late-deciding voters; in Virginia they favored him over Trump by about 20 points. But there were not enough of them to overcome the hold Trump has on anti-establishment Republicans who remain in control of the nominating battle. Cruz did more than enough to argue that he should become the main challenger to Trump, carrying his home state of Texas, as he had long predicted, as well as Oklahoma. Coupled with his victory in the Iowa caucuses at the beginning of last month, he remained through much of Tuesday night the only Republican who could say he had defeated the party’s front-runner anywhere. Months ago, Cruz envisioned that Super Tuesday and its Southern ﬂavor would be the day he took command of the GOP nominating contest. Instead, it was the day he managed to preserve his candidacy, although he remains at a distinct disadvantage against Trump, particularly with Rubio and Kasich still in the race. Cruz can now claim, with
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (bottom center right) has his picture taken with attendees at a campaign stop Tuesday at Port-Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio.
more credibility, the mantle of the true conservative against a front-runner with no clear ideology and views at odds with GOP orthodoxy. But whether he is capable of taking down Trump in Northern states remains in question. Kasich remains a distinct underdog as the campaign heads to Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine on Saturday. None of those states looks hospitable to Kasich’s work-across-theaisles message. He has pinned his hopes on next Tuesday’s Michigan primary and, crucially, the Ohio primary on March 15. For the GOP establishment, Super Tuesday had nightmarish qualities. Not only did Trump
tighten his grip on the nomination, but the only candidate who has been able to beat him is Cruz, the nemesis of Republican congressional leaders and what the Texas senator likes to call the “Washington cartel.” In a choice between Trump and Cruz, many who could be counted as part of that establishment would be hard-pressed to declare a preference. For months, the party elite dismissed Trump, seeing him as a candidate who would burn himself out before the end of 2015. When he proved capable of surviving mistakes and misstatements that hurt most normal candidates, they then assumed that, when the primaries began,
voters would reject him in favor of one of any number of establishment candidates who were then in the race. Today, those desperate to prevent Trump from hijacking the party recognize his strength and his seeming inevitability but seem powerless to stop him. Some believe that the most realistic scenario for stopping Trump begins with victories by Cruz, Kasich and Rubio in their home states. Cruz managed that Tuesday; Rubio and Kasich face those tests March 15. Theoretically, that could lock up enough delegates against Trump to prevent him from winning a majority before the Republican convention and force a battle in
Cleveland in July for the nomination. Another scenario calls for two of the three remaining viable candidates to quit the race, allowing the party to consolidate around a single remaining challenger. When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker quit the race last year, he said others should follow his lead in order to bring the anti-Trump forces together early enough to make a diference. The fallacy of all this talk was underscored by former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. “There’s this fallacy that some small group can get together and decide the outcome of this,” he said. “That does not exist. This is a marketplace of political ideas. The party is responsible for its structure but cannot dictate the outcome.” Trump’s victories Tuesday seemed an echo of his win in South Carolina 10 days ago. There, he survived a debate in which he accused former president George W. Bush of lying about the existence of weapons of mass destruction as the pretext for invading Iraq and also praised Planned Parenthood for providing health-care services to millions of women. On Tuesday, he survived not only the attacks from both Rubio and Cruz but also managed to win the majority of contests, despite controversy when he declined to denounce the Ku Klux Klan in an interview Sunday on CNN. Trump predicted Tuesday that establishment money will come pouring in against him over the next two weeks as he seeks knockout blows against Rubio in Florida and Kasich in Ohio. Up to now, that opposition has been scattered and inconsistent. They are loading up now for what could be one last efort to prevent something unimaginable to them when this campaign began.