Trump warns of unrest if denied his party's nomination

Basking in the glory of a string of primary election victories, businessman Donald Trump yesterday warned of unrest if the Republican Party tried to prevent him from becoming its presidential nominee.

He told CNN in an interview that if he got a large number of delegates and yet was denied the nomination: "I think you'd have riots. I'm representing many, many millions of people."

He was speaking a day after turning in yet another strong performance in a race that has seen his party inching closer to chaos.

The establishment favourite Marco Rubio dropped out after getting walloped in his home state, Florida; the last-placed candidate, Ohio Governor John Kasich, managed to deny Mr Trump a clean sweep across the five states that held their primaries on Tuesday; and Senator Ted Cruz came out to deliver a victory speech despite not knowing if he actually won the contest.

As with many other election nights this season, the outcome of so-called Super Tuesday II would have been too strange to consider just a few months ago.

Mr Trump's wins in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois - the state where violence broke out at his planned rally - added 152 delegates to his name, putting him over the halfway point towards the 1,237 required to win the Republican nomination outright.

His closest rival, Mr Cruz, has 396 while Mr Kasich has 138. At press time, the race in Missouri between Mr Trump and Mr Cruz was still too close to call, and could be headed for a recount.

Mr Trump's failure to beat Mr Kasich in Ohio, meant the governor took all 66 delegates in his state and made the tycoon's path to the nomination a bit more complicated. The businessman needs to win somewhere between 55 and 60 per cent of all remaining delegates to ensure that the Republicans cannot force him out through a brokered convention in July.

A brokered convention occurs when no candidate has accumulated the required number of delegates, and the delegates - who are currently assigned to a specific candidate - can then vote for someone else. Though Republican leaders do not want Mr Trump to be the nominee, a brokered convention would split the party and anger the millions of voters who have made him the front runner.

Dr Daniel Franklin, associate professor of political science at Georgia State University, said: "After tonight, it is going to take something extraordinary to stop Trump. Either that or they are going to have to change the rules."

Similarly, Professor Jeffrey Hill of Northeastern Illinois University said that despite their disdain for Mr Trump, a brokered convention would almost guarantee a Democratic Party victory in the general election.

"One job of any convention is to unite the party after a primary battle. If the convention is brokered, then unity becomes less probable. In a close presidential election, a divided party can mean a loss for their candidate," he said.

A group of top conservatives, worried about the nomination of Mr Trump, is reportedly meeting in Washington this week to discuss other options.

After Mr Rubio suspended his campaign on Tuesday, his supporters - a few in tears - made clear they could not back Mr Trump.

"I'm just going to write Rubio's name on the ballot," said housewife Maria Lima, 60. "Trump does not represent who we are."

Mr Rubio had some parting words for the businessman: "The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party, they're going to leave us a fractured nation."

Mr Cruz did not hesitate to court Rubio supporters. For the first time in the campaign, he showered praise on his Senate colleague and said: "To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms."

Meanwhile, the Republican front runner has also said he will not attend the party's next televised presidential debate on March 21, saying: "I think we've had enough debates."

The Republican primaries - now with just three contestants - continue next week in Arizona and Utah.

This article was first published on March 17, 2016.
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