If “Super Saturday” was expected to bring any additional clarity to the race on either side of the aisle we should probably downgrade the definition of super just a bit. On the Democrat side of the picture, Bernie Sanders bounced back from Tuesday’s drubbing with wins in the caucuses in Nebraska and Kansas, while the primary in Louisiana saw Hillary Clinton winning in a landslide. In other words, Bernie is still lagging badly in the delegate race, but he scored enough positive headlines to continue raising money and pushing the race deep.
As far as the GOP goes, there were four major contests to watch and they wound up being split down the middle. Louisiana and Kentucky went for Trump strongly while Ted Cruz turned out big numbers in Maine and Kansas. If you see a couple of names conspicuously missing from the headlines, those would be John Kasich and Marco Rubio. Kasich was no surprise since he’s just waiting around for Ohio anyway, but Rubio is very much in need of another win and it just didn’t happen. This led both of last night’s winners to come out and suggest it’s time for the Florida senator to call it a day.
“I think it’s time for Marco to clean the deck. I really do. And I say that respectfully,” Trump said at a press conference in Florida.
Trump held the press conference after four states held primaries or caucuses earlier in the day. Trump was projected to win Kentucky and Louisiana, while Cruz won Kansas and Maine.
“I think Marco Rubio had a very, very bad night,” Trump said. “And personally I’d call on him to drop out of the race. I think it’s time now that he drop out of the race. I really think so. I think it’s probably time.”
Of course, the love festival for Ted Cruz couldn’t go on without a few digs. Trump followed up his congratulations to the Texas senator by saying that he should do well in Maine because it’s so close to Canada.
For his part, Cruz’s victory dance was short but to the point. He also seems to feel that it’s time to clear the decks and meet Trump one on one out in the street. (Washington Post)
Republican Party leaders have wrung their hands over the prospect of Trump winning the Republican nomination, and Cruz and Rubio have each sought to paint themselves as the only candidate who can take him down. They have accused Trump of feigning conservative values and fooling voters with promises he cannot keep.
“The scream you hear, the howl that comes from Washington, D.C., is utter terror at what we the people are doing together,” Cruz, the senator from Texas, said in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, speaking shortly after his projected victory was announced.
If you’re expecting all of that to have any impact on Rubio’s outlook, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. Marco is down in Puerto Rico getting ready for today’s contest and he was still Mr. Optimism after the votes were counted. He told reporters that the map “only gets better for us” from here on out and people shouldn’t get impatient. What was even more curious was the reason he gave for doing so poorly last night. (NBC News)
“These states have a certain profile that other candidates do better in,” he said of Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana, all of which voted Saturday and went for his opponents, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
But he framed his losses in all three states — after a three-stop barnstorm of Kansas on Friday — as part of his overall strategy to amass enough delegates to make a play for the nomination in the long run.
“What you need to understand is that all of these states are awarding delegates by proportion. So tonight, we will have more delegates than we did last night.”
What does “a certain profile” mean in this context? If this had been a Republican talking about a loss to a Democrat we’d be hearing accusations of racist dog whistles right and left this morning. But I’m unsure how the Republican voters in any of these states fit a certain profile which makes them less likely to vote for Rubio.
Still, even with all of this sniping going on, I think Rubio has a reason to not simply run up the white flag. He’s going to do quite well in Puerto Rico today and if there is any reality to the alleged power of the #NeverTrump movement, he could stand to benefit from the anticipated erosion in Trump’s numbers. Well.. that’s the theory, anyway. But if The Donald is actually slipping, last night might lead one to think that the benefit is accruing to Ted Cruz instead.