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Live Updates: Donald Trump Wins Big In Nevada GOP Caucuses

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have each tried to make the case that they are the right candidate to defeat Trump — but both came up well short on Tuesday.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Here's what's happening:

  • As soon as polls closed on Tuesday, Donald Trump was immediately declared the winner in the Nevada GOP caucuses.
  • With 100% of precincts reporting, Trump had won about 46% of the vote, Marco Rubio 24%, and Ted Cruz 21.4%.
  • State Republican officials said there had been "no official reports of voting irregularities or violations," despite some reports.
  • It comes on the heels of Trump's commanding win in South Carolina on Saturday.
  • The GOP field narrowed significantly after South Carolina when Jeb Bush dropped out. Cruz and Rubio are each making the case that they are the right person to take on Trump.

Updates

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LAS VEGAS — "This is a cultural phenomenon," a woman enthused to her companion Tuesday night as they joined the line for the hottest show on the Strip. "We have to see it."

It was just before 9:00 p.m. local time. Votes were still being counted; results were not yet in. But at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, people had already been queuing up for hours to see firsthand what The Incredible Donald Trump would do when he won Nevada's Republican presidential caucuses.

When a CNN reporter mentioned, during a live shot from the event, that Trump had just one day earlier declared his desire to punch a protester in the face, the ballroom erupted in riotous applause.

Trump's third consecutive victory speech was, like the first two, brief but not boring — they're never, ever boring — and afterward, he was mobbed by smartphone-wielding super-fans clamoring for pictures.

Read more of the scene at Trump's victory party here. — McKay Coppins

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WASHINGTON — The day after Donald Trump's third decisive win in early state primaries, the prospect of the billionaire's inevitability as the Republican presidential nominee began to sink in on Capitol Hill.

Members of Congress have rushed to endorse Sen. Marco Rubio in recent days, but with several candidates still splitting the vote and Trump racking up delegates, Republican lawmakers now believe Trump is close to being unstoppable and are grappling with what that could mean for the party's down-ballot candidates.

"We won't lose," Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday. "We'll get slaughtered."

Read more here. — Tarini Parti

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Let’s Not Get Carried Away With That "Trump Won Latinos" Entrance Poll

Donald Trump won his third straight state — but another number will surely gain attention, on that's maybe even more shocking than his big Nevada win.

According to an entrance poll of Nevada caucusgoers, Trump won 44% of Hispanic voters, with Marco Rubio getting 29%, and Ted Cruz 18%.

"Forty-six percent with the Hispanics," Trump announced to his victory party, misstating the number. "Number one with Hispanics, I'm really happy about that."

But no one should be drawing definitive conclusions from the statistic.

The overall sample size for the entrance poll was 1,545 caucusgoers; of those, 9% identified as Latino — or about 135 people. Because of the small sample size, the 44% support figure has a 10% margin of error. — Adrian Carrasquillo

Read more here.

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Speaking to his supporters after losing the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday evening to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz positioned himself as the Republican candidate who can beat the billionaire for the party nomination.

The role of the first four primaries is to narrow the field of candidates, Cruz said, recounting his win in Iowa.

"The undeniable reality that the first four contests have shown is that only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump and can beat Donald Trump in this campaign," Cruz said. "You can choose between two Washington dealmakers or you can choose the one proven committed conservative."

Cruz also congratulated Trump on his win in Nevada. "They're still counting the ballots, so we don't know the count, but I want to congratulate Donald Trump," Cruz said.

"Elections are about choices and there are clear choices in this race," the Texan senator said. "If you want more Washington deals, if you want more corporate welfare, if you want more cronyism, if you want more debt, if you want fewer jobs, of you want lower wages, you got two candidates to choose from."

At the end of his remarks, Cruz said he was looking forward to returning to Texas.

"Tonight I will sleep in my bed for the first time in a month," Cruz said. — Adolfo Flores

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Donald Trump celebrated an outsized victory on Tuesday night in the Nevada Republican caucuses after taking the gold in the Silver State.

"If you listen to the pundits we weren't expected to win too much and now we're winning, winning, winning the country. And soon the country is going to start winning, winning, winning," Trump said, speaking at his Nevada campaign headquarters at the Treasure Island casino on the Las Vegas strip.

The Associated Press declared Trump the winner as soon as polls closed at 9 p.m. PT, projected to win about 46% of votes.

In his speech, Trump thanked his family and supporters, such as casino magnate Steve Wynn and Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Jr., before calling out his success among various blocs of voters, from Evangelicals to Latinos. "We won the Evangelicals, we won with young, we won with old, we won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated," Trump said. "I love the poorly educated."

The Republican nomination race now turns to Super Tuesday on March 1, when 12 states and American Samoa hold votes with 682 delegates at stake. Before that, there's a Republican debate in Houston on Thursday.

The winner of the Republican nomination contest needs 1,237 delegates. Trump has only 67 delegates now, but that far outstrips his competitors, and gives him tremendous momentum in the race.

"You're going to be proud of your president and you're going to be even prouder of your country", said Trump, who spoke at 9:51 p.m. PT, less than an hour after the polls closed. — Dan Vergano.

Watch the video:

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com
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Ben Carson addressed supporters after Tuesday's Nevada GOP caucuses — where he finished well behind Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz — pledging to continue his bid for the White House.

"I believe things are starting to happen here," Carson said.

"I know the pundits and the political class, they want to call everything. They say, 'It's all done. It's all over. We might as well go home and do the coronation now.' But you know what, I believe that they're wrong.

"We have a bunch of fire extinguishers, we are going to put the fire out and put the fire in our bellies." — Adolfo Flores

WATCH: @realBenCarson addresses supporters: "I believe things are starting to happen here." #nvgopcaucus https://t.co/Nhk9cs5lhk

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A Republican official who was sent to investigate reports of issues at Palo Verde high school said that there was no rule against caucus volunteers wearing campaign gear.

"There's no rule against it," he said when asked about reports of volunteers wearing Trump shirts.

The official said that there were ways the party could verify whether double balloting problems had occurred.

"Obviously we take reports of double balloting very seriously," they said. "There is a process in place to review and check with a master signing sheet that we'll check against. All our site leaders are trained and prepared in case stuff like this happens."

The Palo Verde High School caucus site included many precincts, and the scene was chaotic when BuzzFeed News arrived (Donald Trump's visit there didn't help).

"We have so many precincts in here it adds to the chaos of it, the appearance of chaos," the official said.

The official pointed at one precinct that was running smoothly as an example of how "it's not like the entire Palo Verde area is a disaster."

"When I use the term disaster, it's also, this is really good for us," the official said, referring to the high turnout.

Rosie Gray

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Donald Trump took his angry, anti-establishment message all the way to the bank in Nevada on Tuesday night, winning the GOP caucuses there handily.

The Associated Press, which worked in partnership with the Nevada GOP to communicate results, declared Trump the winner as soon as polls closed at 9 p.m. PT. With 2.7% of precincts reporting at 9:10 p.m. PT, Trump held a margin of more than 19% over his nearest rival.

This was his third straight victory in his campaign to win the Republican presidential nomination, giving him momentum and a lead in delegates ahead of Super Tuesday next week, when Republicans in 12 states will weigh in on the nomination fight.

Although Nevada is notoriously difficult to poll, Trump held a wide margin over his nearest rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio going into the caucuses.

Having lost Iowa to Ted Cruz, Nevada is also Trump's first caucus victory.

At the close of polls, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were still battling for the runner-up position. — Kyle Blaine

The scene at Trump watch party as CNN projects him winner of Nevada caucuses

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Not every Republican candidate stuck around for the Nevada caucuses.

Senator Marco Rubio headed to Michigan, which will host a March 8 primary. Since Tuesday's Nevada caucus results will come in very late, Rubio told CNN, "for us, understanding that a week later we have multiple states in play requires us to get to those states and make sure we can hit all of them before a week from now."

That means visiting states such as Michigan, with 59 Republican delegates up for grabs, ahead of Super Tuesday on March 1, when 13 states hold primaries. Rubio spoke to a crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Tuesday evening.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, meanwhile, headed to Georgia, a Super Tuesday state, with 76 delegates at stake for a rally in Sandy Springs.

A special thank you to those in Sandy Springs who waited in massive lines and stuck around in our overflow area.

Both Michigan and Georgia award their delegates proportionally to candidates, as long as the leading candidate doesn't take more than 50% of the votes. — Dan Vergano

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Nevada GOP Says No Official Reports Of Voting Irregularities Or Violations

There have been no official reports of voting irregularities or violations. #nvgopcaucus

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Nevada GOP Official: Volunteers Can Wear Hats, Buttons Supporting Candidates

@TeamMarcoNV just wrong that the guy collecting votes wears Trump shirt/hat! Did he change my vote? #NVforMarco

Some Nevada caucusgoers were surprised to find votes being counted by supporters of various candidates at Tuesday's caucus.

One particular photo of a man wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and Trump T-shirt were widely shared on Twitter.

However, caucus volunteers can wear campaign gear, a Nevada GOP official told BuzzFeed News.

Campaign hats, buttons, and T-shirts are all allowed on volunteers, who underwent training on vote-counting prior to the caucus. — Dan Vergano

UPDATE: Nevada GOP has tweeted that volunteers may wear "candidate gear."

It's not against the rules for volunteers to wear candidate gear. Volunteers went through extensive training & are doing a great job

Correction: earlier photo was of ballot issuers. This is one of a ballot collector. She has the hat, not the shirt

My team sending me multiple pics of caucus volunteers taking ballots wearing Trump shirts.#tcot

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Chaos, Disorganization Reported At Some Caucus Sites

Caucus chaos at Palo Verde HS in Summerlin NV #nvgopcaucus

Voters at sites like Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas were being given more than one ballot, according to reporters at the site.

In other instances people's identification reportedly wasn't being checked.

Man here says "it's a disaster." No one is checking in or checking IDs. They're handing out ballots willy nilly. Some guy voted trump twice

Second woman says no one checked her ID. She was just handed a ballot. She says it's very scary. #Nevadacaucus

Others said there weren't enough ballots for the number of people who showed.

#nevada caucus what a mess;out of ballots;u put your own ballot in envelope MESS!

A Clark County Republican official told BuzzFeed News they were working with the state party to get ballots to sites that were running low or had run out.

The official, who only agreed to speak on background, said they hadn't heard of people being given extra ballots or identification not being checked. At the end of the night, volunteers would compare the number of ballots submitted with the number of people who showed up to the site, the official said. — Adolfo Flores

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Caucuses have started in some Nevada precincts, as registered Republicans meet to help choose their party's nominee for president. People had up until Feb. 13 to register with the party and be able to vote.

The Nevada GOP caucuses work a little different to their Democratic counterpart (and the Iowa caucuses), where voters congregate publicly and are counted in groups in order to determine a winner.

According to the state Republican party, meetings work as follows:

The meeting will begin with the election or appointment of a caucus chair for each precinct. It will then move on to candidate speeches, where each candidate will have the opportunity to have a caucus attendee speak on their behalf. Following the speeches, voters may fill out their ballots for the presidential preference poll.

Once they cast a ballot, caucusgoers can leave if they choose, but they are encouraged to hang around and see who wins.

Another key point of difference: no coin tosses or playing card draws to determine a winner in the case of a draw. "We may be in Nevada, but here in the Republican Party we prefer letting voters choose their nominee, not games of luck," the Nevada GOP says.

Nevada is not a winner-takes-all state, either. Its 30 delegates will be awarded proportionally based on the final results. A candidate must receive at least 3.33% of the votes in order to be eligible for a delegate.

Caucuses will end at 9pm PT (12 am ET). — David Mack

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w.soundcloud.com

Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, who is supporting Marco Rubio in the presidential race, said last week that senators who are against holding a vote on President Obama's eventual Supreme Court Nominee "probably ought to find a new job."

Rubio, whom Amodei endorsed on Sunday, has said the Senate should not move on Obama's nominee to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia.

Amodei made the comments on Feb. 17, when he was still supporting Jeb Bush.

"There's a few people listening to this show who probably are planning on caucusing and voting for Donald Trump, and you know part of the reason why?" Amodei said on The Dan Mason Show. "I won't speak for them, but I'm gonna wildly speculate, they are fed up and sick and tired with the culture in the nation's capital."

The congressman continued, "And so to somehow say, we shouldn't vote on this, it's like, well, the only reason not to vote, as a guy who's got a voting record on a state and federal level now, is if you don't want people to know where you stand on an issue. If you don't want 'em to know where you stand on an issue, you really ought to get into a different line of work."

Christopher Massie

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Video: Trump Says He'd Like To "Punch" Protester

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com / Via Associated Press

Campaigning in Las Vegas ahead of Tuesday's Nevada caucuses, Donald Trump said he wanted to punch a protester who was being escorted out of a rally.

"In the old days," Trump said, protesters were "carried out on stretchers. We're not allowed to push back anymore."

"I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you that," Trump said.

Trump also called a Republican rival "a liar" and "sick."

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WASHINGTON — As many of his colleagues in the Senate rallied behind Marco Rubio as the anti-Donald Trump GOP presidential candidate on Monday, Sen. Rob Portman reaffirmed his support for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"What I love about Gov. Kasich is that he actually has this experience in Ohio of having taken a situation — not unlike ours — in the sense of a huge deficit, unprecedented for Ohio and turned it around to a surplus without raising taxes," Portman told reporters Monday evening.

The Ohio senator added that it's up to Kasich how long he should stay in the race.

And when asked if the governor staying in the race would increase Trump's chances of winning the nomination, Portman responded: "My predictions haven't been very accurate."

With Jeb Bush dropping out of race on Saturday, the establishment wing of the party is hoping to coalesce behind Rubio ahead of the crucial March primaries. Several senators including, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, and Indiana Sen. Dan Coats endorsed Rubio on Monday.

Tarini Parti

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LAS VEGAS — Ted Cruz has asked for the resignation of his communications director Rick Tyler after Tyler shared a false report about Marco Rubio, Cruz told reporters on Monday.

"I've spent this morning investigating what happened," Cruz said. "And this morning I asked for Rick Tyler's resignation. I have made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity. That has been how we've conducted it from day one."

Tyler had shared on social media a report that purported falsely that Rubio had made a negative comment about the Bible to a Cruz staffer. He later apologized to Rubio on Facebook, saying, "I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the senator made a friendly and appropriate remark."

Read more here.

Rosie Gray

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Kasich describing his 1978 campaign for the Ohio legislature at a town hall in Virginia on Monday:

"How did I get elected? I didn't have anybody for me, we just got an army of people, who um, and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door, and put yard signs up for me. You know, all the way back, when things were different. Now you call homes and everybody's out working, but at that time, early days, it was an army of the women that really helped me to get elected to the state senate and into that job."


Read more here.

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Bush's departure from the race Saturday night set in motion a concerted — and urgent — effort within GOP establishment circles to decisively consolidate support behind Rubio and finally elevate a consensus standard-bearer for mainstream Republicans. Even as votes were still being tallied in South Carolina, Rubio's lieutenants were moving swiftly to lock down Jeb's high-dollar donors, and party elites were quietly leaning on high-profile officeholders in the GOP to get on board with Marco-mentum.

In the coming week, the campaign plans to start rolling out a parade of new endorsements as Republican leaders make a show of coalescing around the fresh-faced Florida senator.
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Trump Campaign Aggressively Tried To Hire Staffers From Koch Group

Late last year, Donald Trump's campaign aggressively courted top current and former staffers from a Koch-backed group in an effort to rapidly build up their national ground operation.

There was a reason: Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was formerly the New Hampshire state director for Americans for Prosperity, the biggest Koch-funded group. His intricate knowledge of the state paid off, as Trump soundly won the second state on the Republican calendar.

Trump's plan for upcoming primaries in states voting on March 1 and 15 was supposed to follow a similar model, recruiting top staffers affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers' political network — specifically from Americans for Prosperity or AFP — who are well-trained in organizing and getting out the vote in their states.

—Tarini Parti

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Ted Cruz's disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary could be a decisive moment in his campaign and raises doubts about his strategy of winning big in the South.

The Cruz campaign has repeatedly signaled that the South would be a bulwark of their strategy for winning the nomination, and South Carolina served as the first test of that. The result here could presage what may happen in the March 1 "SEC primary" that will make or break Cruz's campaign, which is centered around winning evangelical voters in conservative places. But Cruz's team is downplaying the loss, emphasizing Cruz's previous win in Iowa and arguing that the stakes were higher here for Rubio, who appears to have eked out a second place finish over Cruz.

—Rosie Gray

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A Guide To Donald Trump’s Shifting Position On The Iraq War

Some of Trump's past statements, unearthed by BuzzFeed News, contradict his narrative that he was against the war before it began. Trump offered tepid support in September 2002, answering a question from Howard Stern on whether he would invade Iraq by saying "Yeah, I guess so." And one day into the war, Trump still called the invasion a "tremendous success from a military standpoint."