US Elections 2016

Republican Party caught between bombastic Trump, right-wing Cruz

After the weekend’s results, a battle between extreme candidates will decide the future of the US

Ted Cruz during a campaign event.
Ted Cruz during a campaign event.J Pat Carter / AFP

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The battle to choose a Republican candidate for the White House is turning into hand-to-hand combat between New York magnate Donald Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The more moderate options, such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio governor John Kasich, are notching up failure after failure in the Republican primaries.

The wins achieved by Cruz on Saturday at polls held in Kansas and Maine bolster his chances, just at a time when the Republican Party has mobilized to try to stop Trump. In Kentucky and Louisiana, the other two states that voted, the billionaire showman managed two more wins, a run that only the senator, who is of Cuban origin, looks able to stop. So far, Trump has won in 12 states, Cruz in six and Rubio in one.

Mitt Romney has launched attacks on the billionaire businessman, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud” and saying he was not fit to run the country

With just eight months before the US presidential elections, the Republican Party is facing a terrible scenario, and has been forced into a dead-end street. Trump, with his demagoguery, his abrupt style and xenophobic discourse, is not wanted by the party as their candidate. Last week, former Republican hopeful Mitt Romney, who ran against President Barack Obama in 2012, launched attacks on the billionaire businessman, calling him a “phony” and a “fraud” and saying he was not fit to run the country.

However, the likely alternative, Cruz, is also hated by much of the conservative elite. His often extreme positions on issues such as immigration sit him to the right of a country that is hugely diverse, and in which votes from minorities play a key role. In fact, if Trump were not in this race, Cruz would be considered the most radical conservative candidate on the party slate.

In the Democratic camp, meanwhile, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appears to be leaning toward the former secretary of state after the results of Super Tuesday, when a dozen or so states hold their primaries. But the Vermont senator is still not out of the race entirely. On Saturday, Sanders took two relevant wins in Kansas and Nebraska, while Clinton dominated in Louisiana, where she took more than 70% of the vote.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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