Utah split hampers Republican efforts to derail Trump’s lead

Left: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at Fresh Start Church on Sunday in Peoria, Arizona, March 20, 2015. Right: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event in the atrium of the Old Post Office Pavilion, soon to be a Trump International Hotel, Monday, in Washington, March 21, 2016,. Lower Center: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks to a town hall gathering at the Dixie Center St. George Saturday in St. George, Utah, March 19, 2016 | Photo of Cruz by Courtney Pedroza/The Arizona Republic via AP; AP photo of Trump by Alex Brandon; St. George News photo of Kasich by Michael Durrant; all photos cropped for composite, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donald Trump faces an uphill battle in Utah’s caucuses Tuesday, but he could still walk away with delegates if sharp divisions within the party prevent anyone from winning a majority.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is likely to do well in Utah, a conservative state that prizes civility and religiosity. Cruz has been helped by the support of Mitt Romney, the GOP’s last presidential nominee who holds clout among the state’s predominantly Mormon voters. On Monday the Texas senator also picked up the endorsement of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

But Ohio Gov. John Kasich is fighting back in Utah, hoping his more pragmatic approach and longtime governing experience will net him delegates there. He has invested heavily in Utah in recent days, airing $215,000 in ads — the fifth highest amount he’s spent in any state so far. In addition, one Kasich campaign web ad that falsely implies Romney backed him, rather than Cruz in Utah.

See: Caucus night approaches: What to know

According to Utah state regulations, if no candidate wins more than half of the caucus votes, each of the three candidates will be awarded delegates proportionally. The candidate who can win Utah by more than 50 percent will walk away with all 40 delegates.

Trump could significantly benefit from those rules if Cruz doesn’t win the majority, since it would ultimately bump up his lead. The former reality television star goes into Tuesday’s contests as the national front-runner with 680 delegates in hand. Cruz has 424 and Kasich has 143.

Ultimately, both Cruz and Kasich increasingly share a mutual goal — both want to stop Trump from gaining the required 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination, ultimately forcing a contested convention to take place in July.

Kasich made a series of campaign stops in the state on Friday and Saturday, drawing rebuke from Cruz.

See more: GOP presidential candidate John Kasich holds town hall meeting in St. George

“Donald Trump wants people to vote for Kasich because it divides his opposition,” Cruz told reporters during a trip to the Arizona border Friday.

On Monday, Utah Republicans received a pre-recorded call from Romney urging them to back Cruz, not Kasich. “At this point,” Romney said on the call, “a vote for John Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.”

The Kasich campaign says it’s logical to compete in Utah. “It would be malpractice to cede delegates to somebody who you don’t think is going to be the nominee and who you don’t think can win the general election,” spokesman Chris Schrimpf said.

The split among Utah voters and its Republican establishment mirrors the widening divide among Republicans nationwide. A total of all the votes cast thus far reveals that a majority have opted for someone other than Trump. But with no single standard-bearer in the running, the billionaire real estate developer has managed to amass a majority of delegates.

“I don’t know if there are huge disagreements on policy but there are temperamental differences at play,” said Paul Mero, former head of a conservative think tank in Utah. “Kasich just taps into a fundamental Utah establishment seriousness.”

Kasich has netted the backing of former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and onetime Sen. Bob Bennett — who was ousted by the tea party movement in 2010 and replaced by Sen. Mike Lee, who is now backing Cruz. The Texas senator, an unapologetic conservative firebrand, often lashes out against Republican establishment figures, many of whom traditionally thrive in Utah. But leaders like Romney and Herbert have consolidated around Cruz because he is seen as the only one who can catch up to Trump‘s delegate lead.

Asked if he would vote for Trump if he gets the nomination, Herbert said, “Let’s hope that doesn’t have to be my decision.”

Dave Hansen, a Republican operative in Utah, is confident that the state’s highly-engaged voters will figure out that Cruz has the better chance to get to 50 percent and block Trump.

“They are the kind of people who record CSPAN for viewing later,” Hansen said.

Written by BRADY MCCOMBS, Associated Press, NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press; Riccardi reported from Denver, Colorado. Jule Bykowicz in the District of Columbia, Kathleen Ronayne in Concord, New Hampshire, and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • David March 27, 2016 at 11:17 am

    I always thought we were a nation of laws, although immigration enforcement has been spat upon by this legal potentate who reigns in high office and who has made his prior coronation 7 years ago into a travesty. But President Barack Obama has used every means possible to thwart Constitution–Article 1, He has overreached his authority to cause a massive surge in unknown proportions of illegal aliens/ migrants to reach our soil, then because of Obama’s stealth ruling the US Border Patrol is not allowed to turn them away, but by his orders process them for criminal histories, then dump them on our depleted social services and programs for the populations poor, sick and old.

    The Republicans had the absolute nerve to cut back Senior Citizens (COLA) payment, yet they have funds for healthcare, food stamps, and low income housing and cash payments for the illegal alien families?

    Breaking news: Militant Socialist-Communist billionaire George Soros has funded Presidential nominee John Kasich in pledging to legalize 11 million illegal aliens. Sheriff Clarke says President Obama and AG Loretta Lynch is lying about deportation efforts.

    I really don’t care about the idiosyncrasies of the Trump or Cruz, their family relationship battles; all I care about is that eye-opening giant wall to stop the drugs slipping across the border, the millions of welfare illegal aliens. I don’t want to see kids overdosing on putrid substances and parents watching the brain corrosion killing them. If it was me seeing a long line of foreigners carrying familiar burlap sacks across wilderness, I would shoot them dead.

    Absolutely I am voting for Donald Trump for all his minor faults, because I speculate that he is the ONLY politician who will enforce our immigration laws by building a massive wall, enforcing immigration law by implementing an internal mandatory E-Verify that not only pursues illegal aliens in the workplace, buy the business owners who employ them. That Trump will regenerate our army, navy and air force and the equipment they need to enforce the peace. Trump will end the obnoxious Politically Correctness, which has been cleverly infested our sovereign nation by the dismal Liberals, which has inundated our laws to blemish Christian teachings, so it’s an immoral act to say Merry Christmas.

    If the atheists want to live in their gloomy world let them, but stay away the framers philosophy. Political Correctness is collapsing the very fabric of our society, as ever before have people been frightened to speak out of the irrationality fear of being branded a racist, homophobic or a bigot. This is all Hillary Clinton in her Liberal plot, to further our right to speak. The slaughter might have been avoided in San Bernardino, if the sinister coming and goings had been reported to the police, but today the local authorities are under heavy intimidation and so were the neighbors? Trump has the guts to remove the PCPolicing and go suck your poison eggs somewhere else; the same with the failing indoctrination of the absurd environmentalists, as thousands of your rules and regulations have killed jobs and robbed America of thriving businesses.

    Guns will be back in the hands of honest citizens, who want to protect their families and homes. We all know by now that Political Correctness forced on us by this administration, to give up our weapons. Just ask the dead that haunt San Bernardino, CA, Paris, France, or Brussels Belgium. If several individuals carried a hidden pistol they could have perhaps some of the life’s–not all, but some?

    If Cruz becomes President there will be limits, to what he is allowed to do by his Special Interests demands and a spouse associated with Goldman Sachs who slyly passed a 1 million dollar loan as a campaign contribution. Same with Hillary Clinton, who is also must genuflect to her wealthy cronies and with all people in any hierarchy of government, will walk away free from her history of criminal activities and her pandering to any new issue that arises through the general election. Trump has a ton of endurance, and will not be panicked by foreign adversaries as Obama. Weak people should not be in the Oval Office, specifically smelled Obama’s tail in removing troops from Iraq. Trump will not play games with Iran or the genocide of Christians as ISIS. They will be blown off the face of the earth.

    You cannot help but wonder who is investing money in the Mexican auto industry, who stole our jobs and manufacturing base, just as China, India and other countries. This is probably why jokers as Bill Maher and his cronies hate the Trump voters? The well-heeled people, celebrity and well-known people don’t care about Mr. & Mrs. average who don’t have a portfolio full of stocks and investments, as long as Wall Street is building a huge ‘Ivory Tower” for them somewhere?

  • David March 27, 2016 at 11:17 am


    Don’t advise me there is no complicity between speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the Obama administration. The GOP Rino’s surrendered to the Democrats, when they passed the Omnibus budget of $$$2.2 Trillion dollars giving this President full authorization to spend taxpayer’s money on:

    1. Obamacare (Next year will rise premiums to 81% to fund the Affordable Care Act.
    2. Planned Parenthood (With funds for even more abortions)
    3. Climate Change (which Hillary Clinton says is unavoidable in killing hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coal industry; closing down coal mines and thereby raising the prices of electricity throughout our country.
    4. Funds for Amnesty for 5 million illegal aliens, stealing jobs from less fortunate Americans on the lower pay scale.
    5. Funding Sanctuary Cities for criminal illegal aliens, where unsuspecting citizens and legal immigrants live and the local governments refuse to enforce federal immigration laws. Learn the consequences of open borders at http;//www.illegalaliencrimereport.com / YOU WILL NOT READ ABOUT THIS APPALLING ISSUE IN THE PRESS.
    6. Funds to settle 65, 000 Syrian Refugees that are infiltrated by butchering jihardists.
    7. Funds for millions of American Freeloaders, who prefer to live like viruses on their own people.

    Keep an open mind on the polling, the mainstream media, and any confusion relating to Trumps losses in winning the presidency? Forget about the Super PAC’s as they are a bunch of habitual liars, just as Hillary and Ted? It’s carefully planned by both parties, in the public thinking that they will refrain for voting and using there vote to push Ted Cruz, John Kasick or even Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders or an immense array of hungry money lawmakers into focus to corrupt the White House procedure. Never trusted the National Enquirer as it is a rag, which is not always telling the truth and is always involved in some lawsuit.

    You are never, ever seeing a change with either the Democrats, who believe handing out freebies to ‘human parasites, who thinks ‘WORK’ is a term that doesn’t fit in their limited vocabulary. The Profession class politicians in the Republican Party whose major stance is cronyism and selling their votes to wealthy entities, whose lobbyists who are incessantly hanging around Washington. But that doesn’t mean that Democrats are not open to corruption as well, as they to have the lobbyists that are crowding DC.

    Very few politicians are not susceptible to the affluent activities of donors, who are mostly in Congress to represent their campaign contributors as precedence, and the American people second. We have seen this with the open border crowd, and don’t care how much funding the foreign invaders get, as long it’s agreeable to the cheap labor factions. One individual had the audacity to state illegal aliens are better workers than average Americans? This promotes serious concerns, when no matter this insipid insinuation does foreign nationals have any priority over an American–born and raised, or a legitimate immigrant?

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