Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Donald Trump Wins Florida GOP Primary, Knocks Out Rubio; Kasich Wins Ohio to Stay Alive (VIDEO)

Trump won Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina. Kasich took his home state, where he's the sitting governor. Missouri is still too close to call and folks were talking about statewide recounts last night.

In any case, the nomination's Donald Trump's for all intents and purposes. He'd have to have some kind of spectacular collapse to prevent him from heading into the Cleveland convention without the necessary delegates to win on the first ballot. Indeed, with Kasich staying in the race, he'll siphon votes from Ted Cruz, however small, which will allow Trump to continue to win the plurality of GOP primary voters in the remaining contests.

Now all the GOPe can do is hope for contested convention, or frankly, get behind a dark-horse third party candidate, which would mean the end of the party as a legitimate organization.

More, at LAT, "Trump builds momentum with at least 3 more wins; Rubio drops out, Kasich takes Ohio":

Donald Trump romped to victory Tuesday in Florida, chasing Marco Rubio from the race, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich won his home state, raising hopes for those seeking to stop Trump and settle the presidential contest on the floor of the Republican National Convention.

Trump also won North Carolina and Illinois and was locked in a close fight with Sen. Ted Cruz in Missouri.

“I'm getting ready to rent a covered wagon, we're going to have a big sail and have the wind blow us to the Rocky Mountains and over the mountains to California,” Kasich said at a jubilant rally outside Cleveland.

That is just the sort of extended nominating fight the GOP establishment sought to avoid by stacking the political calendar with big early contests, capped by Tuesday night's winner-take-all primaries in Florida and Ohio. California votes on June 7, near the close of the primary season.

Now, many of those same party types see an inconclusive nominating contest as the best and perhaps only chance of thwarting Trump, even if it threatens to shred the GOP in the process.

The setback in Ohio, where Trump campaigned hard, was his most disappointing performance since he finished second to Cruz in February's Iowa caucuses.

His unhappiness was evident as he addressed reporters at his posh Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach, Fla., and complained about the miseries of running for president.

“Lies, deceit, viciousness. Disgusting reporters. Horrible people,” the Manhattan businessman and reality TV star said. “Some are nice.”

Cruz, speaking with 99% of the Missouri votes counted, once more insisted he was the only candidate who could defeat Trump.

“Starting tomorrow morning, every Republican has a clear choice. Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination — ours and Donald Trump's,” the Texas senator told supporters in Houston. “Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever. Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over again.”

With Trump's unmatched string of victories, no other candidate is nearly as well positioned to win the nomination ahead of the July convention in Cleveland. He padded his overall delegate lead with Tuesday's victories, putting him ahead of Cruz and Kasich, who had not won a state before Ohio.

But there were signs Tuesday that not just the establishment but rank-and-file Republicans have yet to rally around the party's polarizing front-runner.

Nearly 3 in 10 Republican voters across the five states said they would not vote for Trump if he wins the party's nomination, according to exit poll interviews. Four in 10 said they would consider voting for a third-party candidate if the choice came down to Trump or the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

Defections of that magnitude could badly undermine Trump in the general election, and that prospect will probably be stressed by his opponents going forward into next week's contests in Arizona and Utah.