Triumphant Trump hopes to score a hat trick in Nevada

Washington, Feb 23 (IANS) With two wins in three states under his belt, a triumphant Donald Trump rolls into Nevada as a hot favourite in the Republican presidential nomination contest Wednesday with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz fighting for the second place.

The real estate mogul, an easy winner of primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, is ahead by double digits in Nevada caucuses or party meetings, and leading in 10 of the 14 states set to vote in Republican primaries or caucuses over the next two weeks.

According to Real Clear Politics, his biggest lead is in Massachusetts, where he is 35 points ahead of Florida senator Marco Rubio.

Trump’s lowest margin of victory is predicted to come in Minnesota, where he leads Rubio by 6 points. But in Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s home state, Trump trails him by 6.7 percent.

The candidates are now revving up their campaigns for Super Tuesday, March 1, when voters in 12 states go to the polls.

Ohio Governor John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson also remain in the Republican race but are not likely to make any great impression in Nevada.

Rubio, who edged out Cruz for second place in South Carolina, said that primary turned the Republican presidential race into a three-person contest.

As in South Carolina, Rubio’s campaign strategy relies heavily on endorsements from local lawmakers and celebrities.

Cruz, seeking to recover from a disappointing third place in South Carolina, has stressed the fact that he is the one candidate who has prevailed in a contest with Trump: a February 1 triumph in the Iowa caucuses.

The Texas senator also announced on Monday he was firing spokesman Rick Tyler for spreading false information on social media that Rubio had mocked the Bible.

Trump has called Cruz a “liar”. Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have also riled him for his ethics ever since Cruz’s victory in Iowa.

The Nevada contest comes as an increasing number of Republicans say Trump may well be the nominee, whether the so-called establishment likes it or not.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, self-styled Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders accused frontrunner Hillary Clinton of copying his message. He also suggested that she might be improperly influenced by Wall Street donations to her candidacy.

Sanders, who is giving a tough fight to Clinton thanks to the support of young people and working-class whites, is hoping to bounce back after a close five-point defeat in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.

“I have to say that I am delighted that Secretary Clinton, month after month after month, seems to be adopting more and more of the positions that we have advocated. That’s good,” he said at a news conference in Boston Monday.

Clinton was “beginning to use a lot of the language and phraseology that we have used”, he was quoted as saying by the New York Times. “In fact, I think I saw a TV ad and thought it was me. But it turned out it was Secretary Clinton’s picture in the end.”

Sanders went on to imply that Clinton’s stances on issues were not as genuine as his own.

“But the people of Massachusetts and the people of the United States need to know the difference between hastily adopted campaign rhetoric and the real record and long-held ideas of the candidates,” Sanders said.

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