, WASHINGTON, United States, Mar 7 – Donald Trump kept a firm grip on his lead in the Republican race for the White House on Sunday but Senator Ted Cruz emerged as his strongest challenger in weekend primaries with mixed outcomes.
Hillary Clinton extended her frontrunner status in the Democratic contests but Senator Bernie Sanders showed he is still in the race with a few victories.
- Trump now has 384 delegates to 300 for Cruz and 151 for Rubio. Kasich has 37 delegates.
- To win the Republican nomination outright, a candidate must win 1,237 delegates.
Sanders won the Maine Democratic caucuses, according to US media projections.
Clinton and Sanders also faced off in a televised debate in Flint, Michigan, just two days before a crucial primary in that delegate-rich northern industrial state.
They tackled the scandal surrounding the lead-contaminated water in the city, with Sanders railing against the “disgrace beyond belief” and both calling for more accountability.
Republicans saw a stormy week in which panicked party leaders trained their biggest guns on Trump, the billionaire who has galvanized disaffected voters with an anti-immigrant, anti-free trade campaign filled with insults, attacks on minorities and mockery of the political establishment.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio won by a whopping 71 percent the Republican primary election in Puerto Rico, a US commonwealth where residents do not vote in November’s general election.
But the victory – only the second, after Minnesota, for Rubio – hands the youthful Cuban American contender the 23 party convention delegates at play.
Trump now has 384 delegates to 300 for Cruz and 151 for Rubio. Kasich has 37 delegates.
To win the Republican nomination outright, a candidate must win 1,237 delegates.
Failure to hit that number would result in a Republican nominating convention in July that could require multiple rounds of voting by delegates, something not seen in decades but which could conceivably throw the race to someone other than Trump.
Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee who denounced Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” this week, said he expected to endorse one of the three other candidates before the party convention.
Asked if he would reject the nomination if drafted, Romney said such a scenario would be “absurd” but left the door open to it, in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation.