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Trump wins caucuses in Missouri and Idaho and sweeps Michigan GOP convention

Mar 1, 2024, 9:07 PM | Updated: Mar 2, 2024, 4:22 pm

FILE - Registered Republican voters stand in line March 6, 2012, for the caucus event in Rathdrum, ...

FILE - Registered Republican voters stand in line March 6, 2012, for the caucus event in Rathdrum, Idaho. Idaho Republicans will gather in presidential caucuses this Saturday, March 2, 2024, to help pick their party's presidential standard-bearer. Former president Donald Trump and former United UN Nikki Haley will compete for the state's 32 Republican delegates, as will Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley. (AP Photo/Coeur d'Alene Press, Jerome A. Pollos)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Coeur d'Alene Press, Jerome A. Pollos)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump continued his march toward the GOP nomination on Saturday, winning caucuses in Idaho and Missouri and sweeping the delegate haul at a party convention in Michigan.

Trump earned every delegate at stake on Saturday, bringing his count to 244 compared to 24 for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. A candidate needs to secure 1,215 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.

The next event on the Republican calendar is Sunday in the District of Columbia. Two days later is Super Tuesday, when 16 states will hold primaries on what will be the largest day of voting of the year outside of the November election. Trump is on track to lock up the nomination days later.

The steep odds facing Haley were on display in Columbia, Missouri, where Republicans gathered at a church to caucus.

Seth Christensen stood on stage and called on them to vote for Haley. He wasn’t well received.

Another caucusgoer shouted out from the audience: “Are you a Republican?”

An organizer quieted the crowd and Christensen finished his speech. Haley went on to win just 37 of the 263 Republicans in attendance in Boone County.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s contests:

MICHIGAN

Michigan Republicans at their convention in Grand Rapids began allocating 39 of the state’s 55 GOP presidential delegates. Trump won all 39 delegates allocated.

But a significant portion of the party’s grassroots force was skipping the gathering because of the lingering effects of a monthslong dispute over the party’s leadership.

Trump handily won Michigan’s primary this past Tuesday with 68% of the vote compared with Haley’s 27%.

Michigan Republicans were forced to split their delegate allocation into two parts after Democrats, who control the state government, moved Michigan into the early primary states, violating the national Republican Party’s rules.

MISSOURI

Voters lined up outside a church in Columbia, home to the University of Missouri, before the doors opened for the caucuses. Once they got inside, they heard appeals from supporters of the candidates.

“Every 100 days, we’re spending $1 trillion, with money going all over the world. Illegals are running across the border,” Tom Mendenall, an elector for Trump in 2016 and 2020, said to the crowd. He later added: “You know where Donald Trump stands on a lot of these issues.”

Christensen, a 31-year-old from Columbia who came to the caucus with his wife and three children age 7, 5, and 2, then urged Republicans to go in a new direction.

“I don’t need to hear about Mr. Trump’s dalliances with people of unsavory character, nor do my children,” Christensen said to the room. “And if we put that man in the office, that’s what we’re going to hear about all the time. And I’m through with it.”

Supporters quickly moved to one side of the room or the other, depending on whether they favored Trump or Haley. There was little discussion between caucusgoers after they chose a side.

This year was the first test of the new system, which is almost entirely run by volunteers on the Republican side.

The caucuses were organized after GOP Gov. Mike Parson signed a 2022 law that, among other things, canceled the planned March 12 presidential primary.

Lawmakers failed to reinstate the primary despite calls to do so by both state Republican and Democratic party leaders. Democrats will hold a party-run primary on March 23.

Trump prevailed twice under Missouri’s old presidential primary system.

IDAHO

Last year, Idaho lawmakers passed cost-cutting legislation that was intended to move all the state’s primaries to the same date in May. But the bill inadvertently eliminated the presidential primaries entirely.

The Republican-led Legislature considered holding a special session to reinstate the presidential primaries but failed to agree on a proposal in time, leaving both parties with presidential caucuses as the only option.

“I think there’s been a lot of confusion because most people don’t realize that our Legislature actually voted in a flawed bill,” said Jessie Bryant, who volunteered at a caucus site near downtown Boise. “So the caucus is really just the best-case scenario to actually get an opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate and nominate them for the GOP.”

One of those voters was John Graves, a fire protection engineer from Boise. He said the caucus was fast and easy, not much different from Idaho’s usual Republican primary. He anticipated the win would go to Trump.

“It’s a very conservative state, so I would think that Trump will probably carry it quite easily,” Graves said. “And I like that.”

The Democratic caucuses aren’t until May 23.

The last GOP caucuses in Idaho were in 2012, when about 40,000 of the state’s nearly 200,000 registered Republican voters showed up to select their preferred candidate.

___

Cooper reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writers Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, and Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this report.

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Trump wins caucuses in Missouri and Idaho and sweeps Michigan GOP convention