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Donald Trump’s rivals face dwindling time to stop him

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a South Carolina Republican primary night event in Spartanburg, S.C., Saturday.

COLUMBIA, S.C. >> Donald Trump’s rivals are running out of time to stop him after his dominant performance in South Carolina.

A close look at the election calendar suggests that if the New York billionaire’s rivals don’t slow him by mid-March, their only chance to deny him the Republican presidential nomination may be a nasty and public fight at the party’s convention this summer.

“When you look at it right now, it looks like there’s this juggernaut,” said Rich Beeson, a senior aide to one of Trump’s main rivals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

The reason is delegates and how they’re awarded.

Winning states generates headlines, but the nomination is earned by collecting a majority of the delegates awarded in primaries and caucuses. Next up: Nevada’s caucuses on Tuesday.

This year, most contests award delegates proportionally, based on each candidate’s share of the vote. Beeson and strategists for other campaigns argue that could make it hard for Trump to build a big lead because even the second- and third-place finisher can win delegates.

If one candidate can run up a significant lead, as Trump has begun to, then proportional contests also make it difficult for rivals to catch up.

South Carolina is the perfect example of this problem for Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The state isn’t winner-take-all when it comes to delegates, but Trump’s strength in all parts of South Carolina allowed him to haul in all 50 delegates awarded in Saturday’s primary.

Trump now has 67 delegates. Cruz and Rubio took home none from South Carolina, leaving them with a total of 11 and 10, respectively.

Trump is well on his way, and he knows it.

“Folks, let’s go, let’s have a big win in Nevada, let’s have a big win in the SEC,” Trump said in his South Carolina victory speech, referring to the states with universities in the Southeastern Conference that will vote next month. “Let’s put this thing away.”

Only a small fraction of the delegates to be won in the GOP primary season, which began Feb. 1 in Iowa and ends June 7 in California and a handful of other states, have been awarded to date. But some of Trump’s opponents acknowledge he could build an insurmountable lead by mid-March if current trends continue.

“There are going to be a lot of circumstances where we can declare some victories and at least get this thing to March 15,” Beeson said. “Once we get to March 15, if the die has not been cast by then, it’s a different game.”

Why March 15?

That’s the first day on which the GOP’s rules allow states to hold a winner-take-all contest.

Florida will award 99 delegates that day, while Ohio will give out 66. The Missouri primary is that day, too.

Like South Carolina, Missouri awards a pot of delegates to the statewide winner, as well as three delegates each to the winner of each congressional district. That makes it possible for one candidate to win all of Missouri’s 52 delegates, or at least a large majority.

Put simply, it’s a day in which a candidate running second to Trump could catch up. Or fall even further behind.

Altogether, there are 14 such contests on the GOP primary calendar, offering a total of 752 delegates. That’s not enough delegates to claim the nomination; it takes 1,237. But if one candidate wins most of those states, he could build a lead too big to overcome.

In the modern political era, a candidate usually wins enough delegates to emerge as the presumptive nominee several weeks — or even months — before the end of primary voting. That happens when the candidate claims so many delegates it’s all but impossible for anyone else to catch up.

But the nomination isn’t formalized until the party’s presidential nominating convention, scheduled for July this year. The last time the Republican nomination wasn’t decided before the convention was 1976. Yet some of Trump’s rivals are already talking about the possibility of a “contested” convention as they envision a series of second- or third-place finishes in the upcoming GOP primaries.

Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, recently told The Associated Press, “I would be surprised if it’s not May or the convention” when the party settles on its nominee.

At the convention, a lead in the race for delegates guarantees nothing if the candidate doesn’t have an outright majority, said Ben Ginsberg, a leading Republican election attorney. Under most state party rules, delegates are only required to vote for their candidate on the first ballot at the convention.

“If no one comes into the convention with a majority of delegates, then all bets are off,” Ginsberg said. “You’re dealing with a potentially unruly and independent group of people.”

Ohlemacher reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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  • Having Trump as the Republican nominee seems too good to be true for the Democrats. I hope he is the nominee, and his name at the top of the ticket causes Republican losses in the House and Senate. The more damage he causes the party, the better off the country will be.

    • We can now add the pope to the long list of people that can’t stand Trump:
      • Pope lashes out at him
      • Soros hates him,
      • Bush crime family can’t stand him,
      • Clinton sexual abusers loath him,
      • Media can’t stop attacking him,
      • Globalists at the IMF and UN talk about their Trump outrage everyday,
      • Obama admin takes shots at him from the ‘White Hut’,
      • UniParty’ chastises him,
      • UK government wants to ban him from the country,
      • Mexico & Canada are crying about racism and defending NAFTA,
      • French foreign ministers are going bonkers (gun control subject), the
      • Middle East is in an uproar (how dare you ban our terrorists from entering your country), and
      • Wall Street wants him gone before the gravy train stops.
      I repeat, What’s not to like about this guy?

        • Okay let’s call it the White House. Now that the standards are higher do you feel better? Someone who supports a liar and a socialist should not be talking about standards.

        • Sarge. If you can, listen to Burt Lancaster’s monologue in “Judgment at Nuremberg”. Consider his explanations for Germany’s transformation, and how chillingly so many them parallel many of our current challenges. History could record the pivotal significance of this election, and taking what may appear as the the easy road will not necessarily move us in a direction we really want to go.

        • Allaha: Yes, of course. Overt racism is hilarious! That really shows a great sense of humor. Imbecile.

      • What is more amusing is that the GOP Establishment has more in common with Hillary than it does with Trump or Cruz.

        If this election was 20 years ago, Hillary would be waving an elephant.

        • So you can see who really runs the country while the politicians play ping pong with the people and the parties trade places. TPTB and TBTF

  • If the other candidates would pool their votes on one of them the result would look bad for Trump . He only gets the voice of radicals like me, but the majority is too chicken to elect him.

  • Trying to beat “The Donald” they are falling like flies. Bush is outta here, best event ever. The rest will follow.

    As it was on ABC Monday Night Football when Don Meredith sang, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

    Looking like it will be “The Donald” against Hillary Clinton on the ballot. Thunder Dome time. Two candidates enter, one leave. Let the smack down begin.

  • Time is running out to stop Queen Hillary’s Coronation.

    It is becoming apparent that our only real hope is (GOD FORBID), Bloomberg. It’s bad when a liberal nanny state conservative economic elitist is our best option between Trump and Hillary. Unless…..we all vote Gary Johnson. C’mon America. THIS IS THE YEAR. Vote Libertarian!

    • In some aspects I agree, but Libertarians have minimal chance, despite the quality of their offering. Why are we so rabidly supportive of such mediocre candidates from the major parties? It’s as though our response to ridiculous has to be even more ridiculousness. I’ve always supported Paul, with Kasich a strong second, and now with Paul’s exit, my challenge focuses on encouraging everyone to seriously listen to Kasich’s positions, and his evolutions. Get past the headlines, the pundit criticisms, and look at the heart and intelligence of the man. He listens to the other viewpoints, he changes when it’s the right thing to do, and he can champion the return to compromise we have so sorely missed.

      • Ron Paul was the man and the establishment was totally afraid of him. He never had a chance. He wanted to audit the Fed and almost got it done. Kasich would be good but like Romney nice guys don’t win. Romney should have won but didn’t knock out Obama during the debates like he should have. Trump won’t hold back so he should get a chance in my opinion.

        • Actually, the Fed gets audited annually by Deloitte & Touche. What Paul wanted was control over the Fed by Congress. It was one of his dumber ideas. Paul has a lot of grown up ideas like justice reform, but he does pander to some pretty dumb beliefs. The GOP race is however, much worse without him.

        • Why do you think that the Federal Reserve isn’t audited? Do you ever read anything before commenting?

        • If you well read folks would read up on the Fed, who really runs it and how tax payer money was used to bail out the big banks come on back. Check out a few of Ron Paul’s books for a start. Robert Rubin???

        • You said, “He wanted to audit the Fed and almost got it done.” Well, as Choyd and Klastri stated the Fed is audited annually. If you mean something different, then please clarify that.

        • Letting the big banks go would create a global depression. What we didn’t do though, was break them up post recession. They’re even bigger than they were before. But you cannot count on any of the Republicans left in the race to break them up, nor Hillary. Johnson might attempt, and Sanders will, but Congress won’t touch that. Compeition is bad when the companies who would get competed with are your donors.

        • The audit would include the Fed’s “discount window”, its funding facilities, its open market operations, and its agreements with foreign bankers.
          The Federal Reserve states that “the financial statements of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors are audited annually by an independent outside auditor.” The bill’s sponsor, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), countered by stating that the present audit process exempts the Fed’s “most crucial activities”. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-01-12/democrats-kill-rand-pauls-audit-the-fed-bill-though-sanders-votes-yes

  • young voters are deserting hiliar in droves. even young women who identify as feminists. they recognize hiliar’s hypocrisy in her claims that a video was responsible for benghazi, that her email conspiracy never included classified information, that her actions under direct fire in foreign war zones are medal worthy, that her foundation is a charity organization, and her husband is not a sexual predator.

    millenials recognize hiliar’s toxic personality and reject her narcissistic need to be the first female felon elected to president.

        • I see that you still haven’t read any of the case law regarding the crimes you allege Mrs. Clinton committed. No surprise there!

        • I am well aware of security violations. She is guilty. FBI will decide. She may need you as a defense lawyer. Let’s not forget Benghazi and Vince Foster.

        • sarge22 – You obviously are not aware of anything. Why is it that you feel compelled to comment on things about which you are completely ignorant? You are writing about case law regarding how the retroactive assignment of emails as classified can establish intent. Do you actually understand anything about that? The correct answer is no. You have no idea what you’re talking about. And of course, the FBI does not and cannot decide guilt. Can’t you just once write something that is both true and makes sense? Just the mention of Vince Foster lets me know that you probably wear a tin foil hat, so now your writings are in better context.

    • bottom line: hiliar is a felon and congenital liar. hiliar’s distortions of reality is reminiscent of nixon during watergate.

      her advisors are co-conspirators who now must calculate the reward of turning state’s evidence against the risk of imprisonment, all the while knowing that the first to break from the conspiracy gets the best deal. eerily similar to nixon again.

      as hiliar protected obama during his re-election with lies about a video igniting the benghazi incident, obama is joined at the hip to hiliar and will block any federal indictment by issuing a pardon in the waning months of his presidency. again, the shadow of nixon merges with hiliar.

      strange to see democrat brown shirts rallying around hiliar as if repeatedly shouting lies and scapegoating republicans and independents will somehow make hiliar’s less despicable. again, eerily similar to a disastrous campaign of the last century.

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