Cruz wins Kansas, Maine; Trump takes Louisiana, Kentucky
By Associated Press | March 5, 2016, 18:26 EDT
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Ted Cruz and Donald Trump each clinched double-barreled victories Saturday, splitting Republican presidential nominating contests in Kansas, Maine, Louisiana and Kentucky, showing there’s no quick end in sight to the fractious GOP race.
“God bless Kansas,” the Texas senator declared during a rally in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington D.C., is utter terror at what we the people are doing together.”
Cruz defeated Trump by more than a 2-to-1 margin in Kansas and by a comfortable margin in Maine, while Trump was projected to win in delegate-rich Louisiana and Kentucky. Cruz, a tea party favorite, attributed his strong showing to conservatives coalescing behind his candidacy, calling it a “manifestation of a real shift in momentum.”
In remarks to reporters in Idaho, Cruz talked about the winnowing process that has narrowed the Republican field from 17 candidates to four, and appealed to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, though not by name, to quit their campaigns and rally behind him to deny the New York billionaire the nomination. Both finished a distant third or fourth to Cruz and Trump in the contests with declared winners.
Trump called on Rubio to drop out of the race, and suggested that Kasich should also quit so that he and Cruz could go head-to-head in the remaining contests.
With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures frantically are looking for any way to derail Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if no candidate can get enough delegates to lock up the nomination in advance. Party leaders — including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain — are fearful a Trump victory would lead to a disastrous November election, with losses up and down the GOP ticket.
“Everyone’s trying to figure out how to stop Trump,” the former reality television star marveled at an afternoon rally in Orlando, Florida, where he had supporters raise their hands and swear to vote for him.
Despite the support of many elected officials in Kansas, Rubio came up short, raising serious questions about his viability in the race.
With Republican front-runner Trump yet to win states by the margins he’ll need in order to secure the nomination before the GOP convention, every one of the 155 GOP delegates at stake on Saturday was worth fighting for.
Count Wichita’s Barb Berry among those who propelled Cruz to victory in Kansas, where GOP officials reported extremely high turnout. It was Cruz’ fifth win of the nominating race. Cruz had won Alaska, Oklahoma, Iowa and his home state of Texas.
“I believe that he is a true fighter for conservatives,” said Berry, a 67-year-old retired AT&T manager. As for Trump, Berry said, “he is a little too narcissistic.”
It was anger that propelled many of Trump’s voters to the polls.
“It’s my opportunity to revolt,” said Betty Nixon, a 60-year-old Trump voter in Olathe, Kansas. She said she liked the businessman because “he’s not bought and paid for.”
Overall, Trump had prevailed in 10 of 15 contests heading into Saturday’s voting. Rubio had one win in Minnesota. Kasich has yet to win a primary or caucus.
Rubio and Kasich have both pinned their hopes on winner-take-all contests on March 15 in their home states.
Cruz will collect at least 36 delegates for winning the Republican caucuses in Kansas and Maine, Trump at least 18 and Rubio at least six and Kasich three.
In the overall race for GOP delegates, Trump led with at least 347 and Cruz had at least 267. Rubio had 116 delegates and Kasich had 28.
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.
Written by Nancy Benac and Roxana Hegeman