Primaries continue in the US for both the Democrats and the Republicans across several states. But the Republican Party is in open warfare as the prospect of a Trump candidacy appears more and more likely.
Five US states are holding primaries Saturday as the parties continue their respective marches toward selecting presidential candidates.
On the Republican side there are 155 delegates at stake in four states: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine.
for the Democrats, there are 109 delegates up for grabs in three states: Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska. Hillary Clinton is well ahead of her left-wing rival Bernie Sanders, and appears likely to continue to extend her lead.
The political drama, however, is on the Republican side, where the party has descended into a state of virtual civil war after businessman and reality TV host Donald Trump cruised to victory on Super Tuesday.
His continued success at the polls has sparked a revolt from the party establishment, with Republican presidential candidates from 2012 and 2008 slamming Trump and calling him unfit to lead the country.
Past GOP leaders slam Trump
Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain launched broadsides against Trump, calling him unfit to lead the country
"His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader," Romney declared this week. He called Trump "a phony" who is "playing the American public for suckers," and a man whose "imagination must not be married to real power."
Trump fired back Saturday saying: "It's the establishment. The establishment is against us." The Republican front-runner also called Romney "a loser" who should have beaten President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
Overall, Trump and has won primaries in 10 of the 15 states that have voted and has garnered 329 delegates. He is followed by Texas Senator Ted Cruz with 231, Florida Senator Marco Rubio with 110 and Ohio Governor John Kasich with 25.
A brokered convention
While Republican Party leaders flounders for a way to stop Trump, the emerging hope seems to be for a brokered convention in July, where the party candidate is formally named.
An extremely rare occurrence, a brokered convention would require that none of the candidates win an outright majority of delegates - for the Republicans that is 1,237 - by the time all of the states' primaries have been concluded. That would leave it to party power brokers to try and settle on a candidate during the convention.
But if Trump falls short of an outright majority during the primaries we will almost certainly have the biggest collection of delegates heading into the convention. Were party leaders to deny him the candidacy under such circumstances there is a chance Trump could run as an independent candidate, likely taking some otherwise Republican voters with him.
Such a scenario - a three-way race - would almost certainly hand the election to the Democratic candidate, who currently appears to be Clinton.
bik/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)