RENO, Nev., Feb. 23 (UPI) — Hot on the heels of the party’s South Carolina primary, GOP presidential contenders head straight into another primary contest in Nevada on Tuesday.
Polling is sparse for Nevada’s Republican caucuses, but what little is available shows that the Silver State will most likely be another slam dunk for Donald Trump.
A CNN/ORC poll released last week found Trump leading in Nevada with 45 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was a distant second with 19 percent, followed closely by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Dr. Ben Carson lags with 7 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is not too far off with 5 percent.
While Trump stands to gain just 30 delegates in Nevada, winning another state will only add to the momentum of his campaign. As it stands, Trump has 67 delegates — more than 5 times that of Cruz and Rubio, and more than ten times that of Carson and Kasich.
As the field of candidates gets thinner each week, tensions are rising among them.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump told a Las Vegas crowd that he would like to punch a protester in the face. Monday, Cruz’s campaign fired communications director Rick Tyler after he tweeted a video that claimed to show Rubio disparaging the bible. Trump wasted no time using the incident to criticize Cruz for firing Tyler “like a dog.”
Carson, meanwhile, raised eyebrows Tuesday for telling Politico that President Obama had been “raised white.”
“Like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but I also recognize that his experience and my experience are night-and-day different. He didn’t grow up like I grew up by any stretch of the imagination,” Carson said. “Not even close.”
Carson later defended the remarks on CNN, saying he wasn’t “criticizing” Obama.
They were the most recent in a series of inflammatory remarks from Carson, who made in October what some viewed as insensitive remarks about the mass shooting in Oregon. A few weeks earlier, he raised eyebrows when he said he would not support a Muslim U.S. president.
Kasich, for his part, is skipping another primary night celebration to get the jump on Super Tuesday states. He will be holding town halls in Atlanta on Tuesday while Nevada Republicans choose their nominee.