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Biden Surges On Super Tuesday, Wins 9 States Including Texas

Joe Biden scored nine victories in Super Tuesday primaries across the country, from Massachusetts and Minnesota to a wholly unexpected victory in Texas. The former vice president's main rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, won California, the evening's biggest prize, but faltered in Texas and other states he was predicted to win.

In addition to Texas, Biden swept the South with victories in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia as well as Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma. Sanders also won Utah, Colorado, and his home state of Vermont. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) fared poorly, placing third in her home state behind Sanders.

While the California prize may or may not allow Sanders to maintain his delegate lead when all the votes are apportioned, Biden's stunning comeback since his South Carolina win last Saturday has upended the contest. Super Tuesday's result reportedly forced former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reconsider his campaign. After spending roughly $600 million to launch his bid, the former New York mayor bagged only four delegates in American Samoa.

Trump Wins Florida, Kasich Takes Ohio As Rubio Bows Out

PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump won a crucial contest in Florida on Tuesday, knocking rival Marco Rubio out of the race, but lost Ohio to John Kasich in a mixed result that set the stage for a long, bitter nominating fight.

Trump, a businessman who hoped a sweep of five states would put him on the path to the nomination, now faces a three-way struggle with Kasich, the Ohio governor, and Ted Cruz, a conservative U.S. senator from Texas, that could lead to a showdown at the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.

Kasich’s win in Ohio gave new hope to establishment Republicans battling to deny Trump the nomination and block him from capturing the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.

“We have to bring our party together,” a restrained Trump, 69, said in Palm Beach, Florida, as the results rolled in. He congratulated Rubio on his campaign but did not mention Kasich or Cruz.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 68, won in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, putting more distance between herself and rival Bernie Sanders, 74, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

The wins for Clinton added to her lead in pledged delegates over Sanders and gave her an almost insurmountable edge, burying the memory of her stunning loss in Michigan last week. The Democratic races in Illinois and Missouri on Tuesday had yet to be decided.

As she had after other primary wins, Clinton was thinking on Tuesday about a possible match-up in the Nov. 8 presidential election with Trump.

“We can’t lose what made America great in the first place, and this isn’t just about Donald Trump,” Clinton told supporters in West Palm Beach, Florida. “We can’t just talk about economic inequality, we have to take on all forms of inequality and discrimination.”

Trump’s vows to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, impose protectionist trade policies and temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country have rattled the party’s mainstream leaders and left them scrambling to block him.

 

‘Holding Us Together’

Kasich’s win in Ohio, his first in the nominating fight, makes him the candidate of choice for party leaders worried Trump’s rowdy campaign will lead Republicans to defeat not only in the presidential race, but in state and U.S. congressional races.

Kasich, who has tried to emphasize the positive in a Republican race dominated by the pugnacious Trump, said his campaign was “about holding us together, not pulling us apart.”

“I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land,” Kasich told supporters in Berea, Ohio. “We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination.”

The loss in his home state of Florida was a brutal blow for Rubio, 44, who was once a rising star in the party and had become the choice of the party establishment’s anti-Trump forces until his campaign nosedived.

“While we are on the right side this year, we will not be on the winning side,” Rubio, a first-term senator who is not seeking Senate re-election, told supporters in Miami as he pulled out of the race.

Rubio said the party’s establishment had long looked down on conservatives and taken their vote for granted.

 

‘People Are Angry’ 

“People are angry, people are frustrated,” he said, adding it would have been easy to stir up those frustrations and make people more angry. “I chose a different route and I’m proud of it.”

Trump’s closest challenger is Cruz, 45, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party, who is second to Trump in delegates but has struggled in states where the electorate is not heavy on the strongly conservative evangelicals who have been Cruz’s biggest base of support.

By capturing Florida, Trump won all 99 of the state’s delegates, giving him a huge lift in his drive to the nomination. He also won Illinois and North Carolina, while no winner had emerged yet in Missouri.

Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, argued in a memo released after the Ohio result that no candidate was going to win the necessary delegates before the convention and Kasich would be the best Republican candidate to go up against Clinton.

Trump, 69, said early on Tuesday that his momentum was already drawing in establishment Republicans who had previously balked at his candidacy but now see him as the likely nominee.

“They’re already calling,” he told NBC’s “Today” show, without naming names. “The biggest people in the party are calling.”

 

(Additional reporting by Megan Cassella, Ginger Gibson and Alana Wise in Washington and James Oliphant in Miami; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Howard Goller)

Photo: Rosemary Harder wears a hat supporting Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump during a news conference, after the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri primary elections, held at his Mar-A-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, Florida March 15, 2016.   REUTERS/Joe Skipper  

 

Why Today Is More Important Than Super Tuesday

States don’t win nominations, delegates do. Which is why today could easily be the most important day in the Republican presidential primary thus far: while there were technically more delegates at stake on Super Tuesday than there are today, winner-take-all rules mean candidates have a much better chance of making huge net gains over their opponents in today’s contests.

Every state that’s voted up until now rewarded their delegates proportionally, but that changes today. Florida, with 99 delegates, and Ohio, with 66 delegates, will award all of their delegates to the candidate with the most support. In addition, Missouri and Illinois use forms of winner-take-most rules that award some delegates to the overall winner and some to the winner in each congressional district. The rules should result in the vast majority of delegates from these states going to whoever wins the statewide popular vote.

To fully understand what a big difference these rule changes make, look back at the result in Texas, the most populous state to vote so far. Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump by almost half a million votes in his home state. As a result, the AP projects Cruz will get 104 delegates and Trump will get 48 delegates, since Texas awards them proportionally. That is a net gain of 56 delegates for Cruz over Trump. Yet if Trump wins Ohio by just one vote (polling shows him tied with John Kasich), he will win all 66 of the state’s delegates. That would dramatically increase Trump’s delegate lead over second-place Cruz.

To put Florida’s importance in perspective, consider this: Cruz has done better than Trump in nine contests so far, eight of which Cruz actually won. As a result of all these contests, Cruz is projected to pick up roughly 99 more delegates than Trump over those nine states.

As far as the delegate math is concerned, a Trump victory in Florida would effectively cancel out every Cruz victory to date.

At the moment, Trump only holds about a 90-delegate lead over Cruz, but if he wins every state today, his delegate lead over Cruz could easily grow to over 370. If that happens, it would not only be mathematically incredibly difficult for any candidate to get more delegates than Trump, but also very tough to stop Trump from getting the delegates he needs to secure the nomination outright — even if all the other candidates worked together on it.

The delegate rules and math make tonight a real turning point. Any #NeverTrump effort needs at least one of the other candidates to beat him in one of the states voting today to remain viable. That’s why John Kasich, who’s running neck-and-neck with Trump in Ohio, has invested so much time in his home state. Mitt Romney is there stumping for Kasich now, and Marco Rubio’s campaign even floated the idea that his supporters should vote strategically for Kasich in Ohio.

It might not make much difference. Despite Romney’s earlier plea that #NeverTrumpers “vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, for John Kasich in Ohio, and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state,” voters seem reasonably wary of voting against their own preferred candidate.

As does at least one candidate. As Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said recently of the “strategic voting” scheme to stop Trump: “We were going to win in Ohio without his help, just as he’s going to lose in Florida without ours.”

 

Photo: A person holding a Ted Cruz sign stands in a voting booth with a child in Bedford, New Hampshire, February 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 

Rubio: GOP Will ‘Never’ Unite Around Donald Trump As The Frontrunner

Marco Rubio is laying out his case for why he is still a viable candidate, after winning only one state on Super Tuesday. But, more pointedly, he is laying out an even bigger problem for Donald Trump: The Republican Party will keep on fighting him all the way through this primary season.

“If this was anybody else as the frontrunner, there’d be people right now saying, ‘Let’s all rally around the frontrunner.’ That will never happen with Donald Trump,” Rubio declared in an appearance Wednesday on Fox News.

“On the contrary, what you’re hearing now is, how do we prevent the party of Reagan and Lincoln being taken over by someone who for days refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, and someone who quite frankly is carrying out the most elaborate con job we’ve ever seen in politics? And as it’s being exposed, I think you’re starting to see him run into headwinds.”

Rubio also sought to puncture Ted Cruz, who emerged from Super Tuesday with twice as many delegates as himself thanks to wins in Alaska, Oklahoma, and his own home state of Texas: “Let’s not forget that last night was supposed to be Ted Cruz’s big night. It was the night where he was gonna sweep, these states were tailor-made for the kind of campaign he was running. We beat him in Georgia; we beat him in over half the states that were on the map. We got our first win in Minnesota. We picked up what we believe will be over 100 delegates. It now has us in a significant count.”

One small note, though, which might puncture Rubio’s bullish tone: When the segment began, they played a brief video of Rubio’s election speech on Super Tuesday night, when he told supporters, “We are seeing in state after state, his numbers coming down, our numbers going up.”

Fox host Martha MacCallum said the clip was of Rubio speaking “after his Super Tuesday win in the state of Minnesota — his first win of the campaign.”

In fact, Rubio delivered that speech before any results were in from Minnesota. As he was speaking to supporters about his poll numbers going up, he hadn’t actually won anywhere yet — and had lost most of the states on the board by substantial margins, with the exception of a close loss to Trump in Virginia.