Republican candidates battle to keep campaigns alive

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are locked in a high-stakes political chess match in South Carolina in a bid to pull ahead in the Republican primary race - or at least keep their campaigns afloat if they don't.

See Full Article

The manoeuvring comes as some Republican leaders fear Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will begin piling up the delegates needed to secure the nomination before one of the more mainstream candidates can consolidate the support of voters turned off by the brash billionaire and Texas senator, who so-called establishment Republicans believe could jeopardize the party's chances of winning in November's general election.

"We do need to get the field down to Trump, Cruz and somebody," said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee heavyweight from Mississippi.

The Democratic field is already down to two candidates - Hillary Clinton, the former Secretary of State, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton is counting on strong support among African-Americans who twice backed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to act as a firewall against the surprisingly strong insurgent campaign of Sanders.

The only thing that is clear heading into Saturday's pivotal Republican primary in South Carolina appears to be Trump's grip on the lead following his victory in the New Hampshire primary. Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, is also in the mix for a strong finish.

But the more mainstream lane populated by Bush, Kasich and Rubio is more jumbled. Bush's campaign now sees an opening to capitalize on Rubio's fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, while Kasich's strong second-place showing there has given the Ohio governor reason to keep his campaign going until primaries in friendlier territory in the Midwest. Rubio's team, meanwhile, is quietly confident that South Carolina will prove to be a comeback story for the Florida senator.

Kasich's finish in New Hampshire has scrambled what might have been a do-or-die contest between Bush and Rubio in South Carolina. After initially viewing the first-in-the-South primary as too much of a long-shot for a moderate Midwesterner, Kasich abruptly changed his schedule this week and announced plans to campaign in South Carolina almost every day until Saturday's primary.

"Exceeding expectations is why we're there," Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said.

For Kasich, exceeding expectations would be to finish ahead of Bush, the former Florida governor. Bush has deep family ties to South Carolina - his father and brother each won two Republican primaries here - and a poor showing Saturday could leave him without a compelling rationale to keep his campaign going.

As the third major contest in the primary campaign, South Carolina is accustomed to settling divergent results in Iowa and New Hampshire, with the winner here emerging as the nominee in each presidential cycle from 1980 to 2008. But those typically were two-man contests as the race headed South: Ronald Reagan dispatched George H.W. Bush in 1980, the elder Bush defeated Bob Dole in 1988 and George W. Bush topped John McCain 12 years later.

This time, the gaggle of candidates means there's no clean divide on ideology, personality or anything else.

Even before South Carolina votes, Republican leaders are making the case that candidates who aren't competitive need to swallow their pride and let go of their presidential ambitions.

Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman who remains unaligned, put it more bluntly. He said that if a candidate finishes in the single digits Saturday, "you ought to quit."

In the Democratic race, both Clinton and Sanders are making specific appeals to black voters after Sanders won a 22-point victory in last week's New Hampshire' primary, creating a potential opening with black voters for the self-described "democratic socialist."

The Democratic candidates are vying for support in Saturday's Nevada caucuses and then facing off in South Carolina on Feb. 27. Blacks make up more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina and several other southern states.


Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Bill Barrow in South Carolina, and Chad Day and Julie Bykowicz in Washington contributed to this report.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Five men arrested after Vegas-bound plane diverts to Winnipeg

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- Five men were removed from a plane that was forced to divert to Winnipeg on its way from the United Kingdom to Las Vegas. A spokesman with Thomas Cook Airlines says the Airbus A330 was travelling from Manchester to Las Vegas on Saturday morning when the crew diverted to Winnipeg due to some passengers' "disruptive behaviour. Source
  • Family found dead at Mexico resort killed by toxic gas

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- Autopsies indicate an Iowa couple and their two children died from inhaling toxic gas at a rented condo on Mexico's Caribbean coast, but there was no sign of foul play or suicide, Mexican authorities said Saturday. Source
  • 'A historic moment': Montreal massacre survivor joins Washington rally

    Canada News CTV News
    It’s been more than 28 years since a gunman stormed Montreal’s École Polytechnique, killing 14 women in the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. Another 14 people were injured in the massacre, including Nathalie Provost, who sustained four gunshot wounds, including one to the forehead. Source
  • 'I will vote you out': Teens vow to shake up U.S. politics at gun control rallies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Kat Schamel did not vote in the last American election, because her 18th birthday happened to fall on Nov. 9, 2016, one day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. Source
  • Car bomb in coastal Egyptian city kills 2 police

    World News CTV News
    CAIRO -- A bomb placed under a nearby car exploded Saturday in the coastal city of Alexandria as the city security chief's convoy passed by, killing two policemen and wounding four others, the Interior Ministry said. Source
  • Accused Austin bomber called himself a 'psychopath': congressman

    World News CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - A congressman says the suspected Austin bomber left a confession calling himself a "psychopath" and saying he felt no remorse for his actions. Rep. Michael McCaul made the comments at a news conference Saturday, where he thanked law enforcement officials for stopping the deadly three-week bombing spree that terrorized the capital of Texas. Source
  • The road map and road blocks of Trump's transgender troops ban explained

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an order supporting his push to ban most transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military except under "limited circumstances." But the decision is expected to be the subject of an ongoing legal fight in the months ahead. Source
  • Nigerian police: Boko Haram to free 1 more kidnapped girl

    World News CTV News
    MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- Nigeria's police chief says another girl who was abducted from a school in Dapchi last month is being brought back by her kidnappers. Police Inspector General Muhammed Abubakar said Saturday that he cancelled a trip to Dapchi to avoid interfering with the release. Source
  • Quebec doctors protest their own raises, call for improved patient accessibility

    Canada News CBC News
    When Lashanda Skerritt decided to go to medical school, money was far from being the first thing on her mind — she wanted to serve the population. She is among hundreds of health care workers, patients and community groups who marched in protest of raises for doctors in the province. Source
  • New Brunswick man reaches halfway point of 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek

    Canada News CTV News
    A New Brunswick man making a 3,000-kilometre dog sled trek from Manitoba to his home province says the journey thus far has been "a mix of beauty and terror." Justin Allen and his 12 Alaskan huskies left Churchill, Man. Source