Trump accuses Kasich and Cruz of 'collusion' over deal
Donald Trump blasted rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich yesterday for reaching a deal to divide up three state primary contests in an attempt to block the front-runner from winning the Republican Party's presidential nomination.
The real estate mogul and reality television personality (pictured below) reacted to the unusual agreement by saying it was "sad" that the two fellow Republicans had to team up to in order to try to defeat him.
"Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive," Trump said in a statement.
"They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are."
On Sunday, the Cruz and Kasich campaigns announced a deal to concentrate their efforts and resources in state contests where each has a better shot.
Cruz will focus on Indiana's May 3 primary without competition from Kasich, while Cruz will stand aside in favour of Kasich in Oregon's May 17 primary and New Mexico's June 7 contest.
Cruz, a US senator from Texas, and Kasich, Ohio's governor, hope their efforts will weaken Trump in those states and keep him from securing enough delegates to claim the Republican nomination before the party convention beginning July 18.
The deal comes as a handful of mid-Atlantic states prepare for primary elections.
Trump faces a tough path to earn the 1,237 delegates needed to lock up the nomination before the convention.
While candidates can win a state contest, they must still win over delegates who are often allocated at separate events. Republicans will pick their delegates in at least four states this weekend, including Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona and Virginia.
Trump has frequently complained that the process for choosing a nominee for the November 8 presidential election is "rigged" against him, a charge he repeated yesterday. Party officials have said the rules have long been known.
If no candidate has enough support on the first vote at the national convention, many delegates can switch sides on subsequent ballots, opening up a potential free-for-all.
While some groups opposing Trump welcomed the Cruz-Kasich pact, which some Republicans have urged for weeks, other political strategists questioned whether the deal comes too late.
"Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans," Mr Cruz's campaign manager Jeff Roe said in a statement explaining the new plans. "Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation."
Mr Kasich's chief strategist John Weaver added: "Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee."
The arrangement marks a sharp reversal for Mr Cruz's team, which aggressively opposed the idea of a co-ordinated anti-Trump effort as recently as late last week. Yet it underscores a bleak reality for the billionaire businessman's Republican foes - time is running out to stop him.
Speaking to several thousand people in an aircraft hangar in Hagerstown, Maryland, Mr Trump stressed repeatedly that he expected to win the 1,237 delegates needed in the first round of voting to stave off a contested convention.
"I only care about the first. We're not going for the second and third and fourth and fifth," he said.
There was far less drama on the Democratic side as underdog Bernie Sanders rallied thousands of voters in two New England states, seeking momentum even as he offered mixed signals on how hard he would push his differences with front-runner Hillary Clinton.
The Vermont senator largely steered clear of Mrs Clinton at a Rhode Island park, but hours later ramped up his critique before more than 14,000 supporters in New Haven, Connecticut.
Mr Sanders reiterated his call for Mrs Clinton to release transcripts of lucrative Wall Street speeches she delivered after leaving the State Department in early 2013.