Another primary night meant bigger leads for frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, more caucus wins for Bernie Sanders in overwhelmingly white states and more trash talking from the candidates — including defending their spouses.
The #NeverTrump movement of the Republican Party looked again Tuesday night like it may never work. The less-than-modest New Yorker walked away with all 58 delegates from Arizona, adding to his nearly insurmountable lead over Texan Ted Cruz, who did manage to capture all 40 delegates from Utah by taking nearly 70 percent of the state’s caucus vote.
Bernie Sanders showed once again that his folks like to caucus, winning handily the party gatherings in Utah and Idaho.
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But Clinton beat him nearly 60-40 in Arizona. Combined, the night landed her one more delegate than Sanders — but her total win of 59 delegates over the evening edged her ever closer to the Democratic nomination and left him more obviously out of reach of that goal.
Even with her commanding win in Arizona, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was unwilling to concede even after news organizations declared the state her’s.
“I’m not predicting victory, but I’m not predicting defeat, either,” Weaver told CNN late Tuesday. “I mean, we have to wait and see ‘til the votes are counted.”
“There’s obviously something wrong with the numbers, and I think once we see where they come down, it may end up being a split of delegates basically in Arizona.”
Meantime, Sanders’ Twitter account griped about long lines to vote, calling it “a national disgrace.”
Sanders appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s show Tuesday night, talking about the Brussels terror attacks, about the long campaign season and, to some extent, his relationship with Clinton. He returned to his emphasis on small donations versus Clinton’s success with big donors.
On the Republican side, Trump and Cruz took to talking about each other’s wives. The squabble likely traces first to an ad from the Cruz-supporting Make America Awesome Super PAC. (Legally, candidates are not allowed to coordinate with such groups.)
It used a picture of Trump’s wife, Melania, from a British GQ shoot years ago. It ran in ads on Facebook and Instagram in Mormon-heavy Utah. She lies on fur wearing seemingly only a jeweled necklace. The ad says: “Meet Melania Trump. Your next first lady. Or, you could support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.”
The ad was attacked, by forces generally unfriendly to Trump, as misogynist “slut shaming.” Slate writer Christina Cauterucci argued it reduced an accomplished woman fluent in multiple languages to sexist campaign fodder.
“It’s a cynical, short-sighted move from SuperPAC head Liz Mair, who is playing on voters’ impulses toward slut-shaming to turn them against a political candidate with actual, substantive, terrifying shortcomings that have nothing to do with his wife’s body. Mormons disavow pornography and revealing clothing; Mair’s ad implies that Melania is an immoral, hypersexual woman with no modesty who’d embarrass America by association.”
Trump took public offense, blaming Cruz for the work of a super PAC he’s technically not allowed to control. Trump warned that, as he likes to say, he could counter-punch by going after Cruz’s wife, Heidi.
Cruz said anything Trump might toss at Heidi Cruz would be the act of “a coward.”
Heidi Cruz is an investment manager at Goldman Sachs. The New York Times reported in January that the couple was able to put significant personal funds into the Ted Cruz 2012 Senate campaign because Goldman Sachs had loaned up to $1 million to the couple. That Goldman Sachs loan, the newspaper found, was not initially listed in personal financial disclosure documents with the Senate.