Donald Trump has been defeated in nominating contests in the US state of Wyoming, and in the capital Washington, DC. Meanwhile, disruptions from protesters have marred the Republican frontrunner's weekend rallies.
The leading Republican candidate in the race for US president, Donald Trump, was easily beaten by Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the party caucus in Washington, DC, on Saturday. Rubio took 37 percent of the vote, just ahead of Ohio Governor John Kasich on 36 percent. Trump came in third with 14 percent, US media reported.
In the western US state of Wyoming, Texas Senator Ted Cruz won 66.3 percent of the ballots, far ahead of Rubio's 19.5 percent and Trump's 7 percent.
The results will have little impact on the businessman's leading position in the Republican field. The main focus will be on Tuesday's crucial primaries in five states - Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.
Victories in those votes would give Trump an almost insurmountable lead for the nomination. Tuesday will also be a make-or-break day for Kasich and Rubio, who must both win their home states if they're to stay in the race.
In other contests, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton beat Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the first ever Democratic Party caucus on the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory in the Pacific Ocean.
Trump rallies disrupted
Meanwhile, several of Trump's campaign rallies were interrupted by protesters on Saturday - a day after security concerns forced him to cancel an event in Chicago.
Police tackled a man who tried to leap onto the stage while Trump addressed a crowd in Dayton, Ohio. Later in Cleveland, Ohio, security officers had to escort protesters who tried to interrupt the tycoon's speech out of the venue. And at an evening rally in Kansas City, Missouri, hecklers repeatedly disrupted his speech.
Critics say Trump's inflammatory rhetoric - including his call for Muslims to be banned from entering the country - is to blame for the hostility. Hillary Clinton on Saturday described some of Trump's statements as "political arson."
Senator Cruz, Trump's nearest rival from the Republican party, said Trump's campaign "affirmatively encourages violence" and that has created an environment that embraces "nasty discourse."
nm/jlw (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)