Under fire over his immigration policy and slowness to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, Donald Trump still goes into crucial primaries as clear frontrunner
Donald Trump appears poised for sweeping victories on Super Tuesday that would effectively anoint him the Republicans presumptive nominee, leaving the polarised party in the throes of an existential crisis.
Republican primaries or caucuses will take place in 12 states, with the New York billionaire well placed to take all except Texas, where Ted Cruz looks set to win on home turf. On Monday onenational CNN opinion poll of Republican voters put him at 49%, more than all his opponents combined.
The dawning reality of Trump an entrepreneur and reality Tv reveal host who began the campaign viewed by manyas something of a joke becoming the party favourite has left senior Republicans scrambling to either destroy or leap aboard his populist bandwagon.
Although New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Alabama senator Jeff Sessions have endorsed him in recent days, many other governors and senators are remaining silent or actively denouncing him as unfit for the presidency or to take on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee defeated in 2012, has launched a series of assaults, while Nebraskasenator Ben Sasse has raised the prospect of backing a third-party option.
With Trump having won three of four early primary tournaments, the panic was evident ahead of Super Tuesday, the biggest single-day delegate carry of the year. His challengers sped from state to state in a frantic bid to prevented what many now regard as the inevitable outcome.
Marcio Rubio, the party establishments last best hope, attacked the frontrunner on everything from the now-defunct Trump University to the outsourcing of jobs to manufacture Trumps wide range of namesake products.
If he was interested in bringing back American tasks, he could start this very morning by announcing that every product that says Donald Trump on it will be made in America, Rubio said at a morning rally in Knoxville, Tennessee. I challenge him to do that.
At a subsequent event in Conway, Arkansas, Rubio turned to Trumps stance on immigration and his infamous promises to build a wall on the Mexican border. Trump, who has attained his tough approach to immigration the cornerstone of his campaign, has not always held such firm opinions on the questions, Rubio said, citing a report that current realities Tv star privately conveyed a much softer position to the New York Times.
Although the conversation with the Times editorial board was off the record, Rubio called on Trump to grant permission to the paper to release the audio of the interview so we can see “… thats exactly it” he truly believes.
Romney also tweeted that Trump should approve the New York Times to release the transcript, asking: What is he concealing?
Interviewed on Fox News, Trump sought to dismiss the issue. I call it the failing New York Times, he said. It is doing so badly, its dying. We had a board session, it was off the record, of a sudden they leak it, its all over the place.
On immigration, he went on: It is negotiable; the situation is negotiable, Ill be honest with you, Ill make the wall two feet shorter or something. Everythings negotiable. Building it? Not negotiable.
Rubio reiterated his criticism of Trump for failing to denounce the former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the KKK in an interview the day earlier, and then mocked Trumps claim that the incident was the result of a faulty earpiece.
You dont require a good earpiece to hear the words Ku Klux Klan, Rubio said at an evening rally in Oklahoma City. In what was his biggest applause line of the night, he added: There is no place for intolerance, for racism, for hatred, or for David Duke in the Republican party or conservative movement.
Rubios aggressive posture toward Trump comes as the senator is looking to remain competitive in a race that has so far yielded no victories for his campaign.
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