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Trump seeks knockout as 'Super Tuesday' states choose nominees

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LA Post: Trump seeks knockout as 'Super Tuesday' states choose nominees
Joseph Ax and Gram Slattery
March 05, 2024

By Joseph Ax and Gram Slattery

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - Donald Trump will aim to deliver a knockout blow on "Super Tuesday" to his lone challenger for the Republican presidential nomination, Nikki Haley, as 15 states hold Republican contests on the biggest voting day of the primary season.

The former president, who has dominated the Republican campaign from the start despite his litany of criminal charges, has swept all but one of the early nominating contests, winnowing a sprawling Republican field of candidates down to two in the process.

While Trump cannot win enough delegates on Tuesday to formally clinch the nomination, another dominant performance would essentially end any remaining sliver of suspense. All told, Tuesday's contests will award more than one-third of Republican delegates - and more than 70% of the number needed to secure the nomination.

A third consecutive nomination for Trump would set up a rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden in November's election. Biden is expected to win Tuesday's Democratic contests easily, though activists opposed to Biden's Israel policy are calling on Muslim Americans and progressives to vote "uncommitted" in Minnesota in protest.

Haley, a former U.N. ambassador under Trump, has faced mounting questions about how long she will continue her long-shot campaign, particularly after losing her home state of South Carolina 10 days ago.

She had pledged to press on until the Super Tuesday contests but has not made any promises beyond that, and her campaign has not scheduled any public events on Tuesday or beyond.

Trump was leading Haley in every Super Tuesday state where public polling data was available, according to poll tracking website 538. In California and Texas, which together account for more than 300 delegates, Trump was ahead by an average of more than 50 percentage points.

But Haley allies see a narrow window of opportunity to eke out a win in states such as Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont, which have more of the wealthy, college-educated voters who tend to support her candidacy.

Those three states are also among several on Super Tuesday that do not require primary voters be registered Republicans. Independent and moderate voters have favored Haley over Trump in early voting states, according to exit polls from Edison Research.


Another competition to watch could be Utah, whose sizable Mormon population is cool on Trump.

Trump's advisers have said they expect him to eliminate Haley mathematically no later than March 19; at that point, two-thirds of the states will have voted. Trump is scheduled to begin his first criminal trial six days later in New York, where he is charged with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments to a porn star.

Haley scored her first victory on Sunday in Washington, D.C., becoming the first woman ever to win a Republican presidential primary. Trump won North Dakota's vote on Monday after sweeping contests in Michigan, Idaho and Missouri on Saturday.

While Haley has failed to slow Trump's momentum, her challenge has highlighted some of his potential vulnerabilities in a general election. She has repeatedly noted that she reached 40% in some state contests, arguing that her performance shows independents and moderate Republicans harbor unease about a second Trump term.

Terri Johnson, 57, a Haley supporter, said Haley had a better chance of defeating Biden in November.

"I feel like she would bring the Never Trumpers in and the Republicans would win in November," she said at a Haley rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

Nicholas Thompson, a 43-year-old Trump supporter, dismissed Haley as a "RINO" - a Republican in Name Only.

"Trump doesn't want to start any new wars, and he'll secure the border," Thompson said on Monday, as he showed his father and stepmother around the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.

Tuesday's elections were taking place a day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states cannot remove Trump from their ballots based on a U.S. constitutional amendment barring insurrectionists from holding office.

The decision, while a victory for Trump, was also a reminder of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which culminated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by a mob of his supporters.

Trump faces both federal and state charges for election interference, though it is not clear whether either case will reach trial before November's election. He has also been indicted on federal charges for retaining classified documents after leaving office.

He has pleaded not guilty in every case and claimed without evidence that they are part of a Democratic conspiracy to prevent him from returning to power.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Gram Slattery in Fort Worth, Texas; Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in Los Angeles; Editing by Ross Colvin and Stephen Coates)


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