Saturday 10 December 2016

Clinton and Trump plan to boost delegate leads as race goes West

Rachael Alexander in Washington

Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30

Donald Trump greets Alicia Watkins – the blogger who was given a job by the billionaire – in Washington. Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg
Donald Trump greets Alicia Watkins – the blogger who was given a job by the billionaire – in Washington. Photo: Reuters/Jim Bourg

BILLIONAIRE Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were hoping to boost their delegate leads over party challengers for the presidential nomination last night, as the 2016 race for the White House moved to states in the West.

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Arizona and Utah featured contests for both parties, while Idaho Democrats hold presidential caucuses, all of which will determine if Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Ted Cruz and John Kasich can blunt the growing sense of inevitability around both party front-runners.

It has been, especially on the Republican side, the most chaotic political season in decades.

"I have more votes than anybody," Mr Trump boasted on the eve of the votes, as he courted sceptical Republican officials in Washington. "The people who go against me should embrace me."

Ms Clinton looked beyond Mr Sanders and instead sharpened her general election attacks on the billionaire Trump. "We need steady hands," she said, "not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who-knows-what on Wednesday because everything's negotiable."

Mr Trump's brash tone has turned off some Republican voters in heavily Mormon Utah, where preference polls suggest the ultra-conservative Cruz has a chance to claim more than 50pc of the caucus vote - and with it, all of Utah's 40 delegates. If Cruz fails to exceed 50pc, the delegates would be awarded proportionally based on each candidate's vote total.

Mr Kasich hopes to play spoiler in Utah, a state that prizes civility and religion. A week ago, the Ohio governor claimed a victory in his home state, his first and only win of the primary season. But Mitt Romney, a Mormon and the Republicans' 2012 presidential nominee, is telling his fellow Utah voters that Mr Cruz "is the only Republican candidate who can defeat Donald Trump".

Mr Trump appears to be in a stronger position in Arizona, which will award all of its 58 delegates to whichever candidate wins the most votes.

Anti-Trump Republicans are running out of time to prevent the billionaire businessman from securing the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the nomination. In primary voting and caucuses so far, Trump has 680 delegates, Cruz has 424 and Kasich has 143.

Irish Independent

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