US candidates square off in 5 states

2016-03-05 13:03
Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. (John Moore, AFP)

Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. (John Moore, AFP)

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Washington - Donald Trump's rivals, who've tried just about everything to disrupt his juggernaut, can take comfort that the rules for Saturday's round of primary voting make it easier for candidates to claim a share of the delegates than was true in some earlier contests but not much else.

Republican establishment figures are frantically looking for any way to stop Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if none of the candidates can roll up the 1 237 delegates needed to snag the nomination.

Going into Saturday's voting, Trump led the field with 329 delegates. Cruz had 231, Rubio 110 and Kasich 25. In all, 155 Republican delegates are at stake in Saturday's races.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is farther along than Trump on the march to her party's nomination, outpacing Sen Bernie Sanders with 1 066 delegates to his 432. It takes 2 383 delegates to win the Democratic nomination.

There are 109 at stake on Saturday.

With the Republican field now down to a quartet, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich are competing in Maine, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana. Democrats Clinton and Sanders are vying for support in Nebraska, Kansas and Louisiana.

Hunting for delegates, Trump added a last-minute rally in Wichita, Kansas, to his Saturday morning schedule and Cruz planned to stop in Kansas on caucus day, too, one day after Rubio visited the state.

Trump's decision to skip an appearance on Saturday at a conference sponsored by the American Conservative Union in the Washington area to get in one last Kansas rally rankled members of the group, who tweeted that it "sends a clear message to conservatives."

The billionaire businessman's rivals have been increasingly questioning his commitment to conservative policies, painting his promise to be flexible on issues as a giant red flag.

"Donald is telling us he will betray us on everything he's campaigned on," Cruz told voters on Friday in Maine.

In Louisiana, Clinton was hoping that strong support from the state's sizable black population will give her a boost.

Both Democrats have campaigned heavily in Nebraska and saturated the state with ads. In Kansas, Clinton has the backing of its former governor and onetime Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Sanders held a pre-caucus rally in Kansas' liberal bastion of Lawrence hoping to attract voters.

Read more on:    us  |  us elections 2016

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