NEW YORK. – Judgment Day arrived yesterday for at least two Republican presidential hopefuls while Democrats girded for what could be a grind deep into the primary season.
Both parties were holding primaries yesterday in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri.
Billionaire GOP (Republican) frontrunner Donald Trump got some good news early, winning the Republican caucus in the Northern Mariana Islands, a remote US territory of 15 islands in the Pacific Ocean.
In Florida, favourite son Senator Marco Rubio desperately needed a win to prop up his flagging campaign. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich must win or face hard questions about his candidacy. A Trump sweep would also severely damage the fortunes of Texas Sen Ted Cruz, putting a Trump nomination within easy reach.
Rubio was unbowed by recent polls making him as a solid double-digit underdog. He told Fox News that a Trump victory would cripple the Republican Party and the conservative movement – and ensure a Democratic victory in November.
“I think a lot of people are going to be embarrassed” when the returns roll in, Rubio said. “We are going to win Florida.”
Kasich spoke with similar confidence yesterday after voting in Westerville, Ohio.
“I feel great, we are going to win,” Kasich said. He declined to discuss Trump, but did allude to “deeply disturbing” statements Trump had made.
“We probably missed opportunities to get attention early on, but . . . our positive campaign is starting to shine through like a beacon across the country,” he said.
Mitt Romney, the GOP’s failed 2012 candidate, recently joined Kasich on the campaign trail, drawing Twitter ire from Trump as polls opened in Ohio.
“Don’t reward Mitt Romney, who let us all down in the last presidential race, by voting for Kasich (who voted for NAFTA, open borders etc.),” Trump tweeted.
Later Trump tweeted more about the North American trade deal: “North Carolina lost 300 000 manufacturing jobs and Ohio lost 400 000 since 2000. Going to Mexico etc. NO MORE IF I WIN, WE WILL BRING BACK!” Trump told NBC’s Today show that Republican leaders should back him because he has brought new voters to the party.
“It’s the biggest story in politics worldwide,” Trump said. “We brought millions of people in, and they’re voting in the primaries.”
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders provided far more muted Twitter offerings.
“Sisters and brothers in Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida: make your voice heard today. Go vote. #VoteTogether,” Sanders tweeted. Clinton’s Twitter feed chimed in with “FL, IL, MO, NC, and OH: Hillary’s counting on you to vote today.”
Clinton hoped yesterday’s primaries would cement her grip on the Democratic presidential nomination. They are more likely to make clear the race has a long way to go. — USA Today.