Donald Trump is stepping closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination after winning the primaries in Michigan, Mississippi and caucus Hawaii on Tuesday night.
Mr. Trump gained most of the 150 delegates at stake in the recently concluded primaries, which increased the possibility for him to obtain the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination at the Republican National Convention.
The New York Times quoted a statement from Barry Bennett, a senior adviser to Trump, saying, “The only person that has a shot of getting 1,237 is us given how well we did last night.” He added that the “clock is ticking” on the other candidates, but “not necessarily on us.”
Trump gains momentum towards winner-take-all primaries
Mr. Trump showed that the blistering attacks on him did not work given its victories in the three states, which also gave him momentum towards the March 15 primaries (winner-take-all delegates) in Florida and Ohio.
Mr. Bennett said, “After Florida and Ohio, if we win both those states, Cruz will be 300 delegates behind. The winner-take-all states are the rocket fuel.”
The New York Times noted that Mr. Trump needs around 54% of the outstanding delegates while Senator Ted Cruz needs 62%. Sen. Cruz won the primary in Idaho on Tuesday night.
Political analysts suggested that Mr. Trump’s latest victories increased pressure on some Republican leaders, who are campaigning to stop the billionaire from winning the party’s nomination.
During a news conference in Jupiter, Florida, Mr. Trump said, “Hostility works for some people; it doesn’t work for everyone.” He described Mitt Romney’s attack as “very vicious.” The billionaire said, “I wished he used the same energy against Obama, I think, he would have won.” Trump also emphasized that he is a unifier and he can win the presidential election.
In an interview with NBC, Mr. Trump said, “If this party came together… nobody could beat it.”
Other candidates looking at contested convention
On Tuesday, Governor John Kasich of Ohio emphasized that the Republican Party should not assume that Mr. Trump deserves the nomination citing the reason that the billionaire had a plurality of delegates going into the convention, but less than a majority.
Gov. Kasich said, “It’s like being in school and you know that a 90 is an A, and you get to 88, and everybody else is below you. We don’t grade on a curve when it comes to conventions.” He is hoping to win the primary in Ohio.
John Weaver, the chief strategist of Gov. Kasich said the governor is in a good position as the primaries move away from the South. According to him, “After March 15, more than 1,000 delegates will still be available, and the electoral map shifts significantly in our favor, with the delegate-rich states fitting Governor Kasich’s profile.”
On the other hand, Sen. Cruz seemed to acknowledge the fact that it would be difficult to beat Mr. Trump before the convention even if the race will just be between the two of them. During an interview with Fox News on Wednesday morning, he said, “Look, Reagan and Ford battled it out in a contested convention. That’s what conventions are for.”
Joshua T. Putnam, an expert in delegate selection and a political science lecturer at the University of Georgia commented that the primaries next week will give a give a “real clear indication” regarding the Republican presidential race. He said, “If Trump is shut out in Florida and Ohio; that portends a long battle in a race for a plurality rather than a majority.”
The latest poll from the NBC News and the Wall Street Journal showed a tight race among the Republican presidential candidates in states that haven’t held caucuses or primaries. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of likely Republican voters chose Mr. Trump, 25% for Sen. Cruz, 24% for Gov. Kasich and 23% for Sen, Rubio.