Jeb Bush endorsed Ted Cruz Wednesday morning in hopes of uniting the GOP behind its best chance of stopping Donald Trump. On Tuesday, Cruz won the Utah caucuses by a 50-point margin awarding him all 40 delegates, enough to give anti-Trump forces hope they could stop the front-runner from reaching the required 1,237 delegates to win the nomination. Cruz faces a near-impossible path to the nomination outright, while John Kasich has long been mathematically incapable of reaching the target by the convention, while Trump must win about 52% of the remaining delegates. Keeping him from that is will be difficult, but for the first time the anti-Trump forces are feeling hope. As a sign of growing consolidation behind him, Cruz also won the backing of the conservative Club for Growth Wednesday, with more Establishment supporters expected to sign on in the coming days.
The GOP race enters a spring break, with just 42 pledged delegates awarded on April 5 in Wisconsin before New York’s primary on April 19. The gap will test candidate momentum, organization and finances for what will be a long slog to Cleveland. John Kasich, who placed a distant second in Utah and fourth—in a three-man race—in Arizona thanks to early voting, vowed to press on with a focus on Wisconsin and the Northeastern states next month. He could yet be an asset to the anti-Trump forces, potentially playing stronger in more liberal states than Cruz—or, as Cruz has come to say, he could hand pluralities to Trump, which would award him the delegates needed for the nomination.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will weigh in on bringing policy back into the presidential race Wednesday morning in a speech at the Capitol, but will not endorse, aides said. He’s still viewed as a potential white knight for the GOP at a convention, but has repeatedly ruled out such a play.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders netted about a dozen delegates over Hillary Clinton after his overwhelming wins in Utah and Idaho were tempered by a lopsided loss in Arizona. His pathway to the nomination is essentially non-existent, as Clinton holds a 300-vote pledged delegate lead, even before her commanding grasp on super-delegates is factored in. Clinton looked past Sanders Tuesday night in her victory address, lambasting Trump and Cruz for their responses to the terror attacks in Belgium. Clinton’s campaign added a foreign policy speech Wednesday in light of the attacks, as she argues she’s the only candidate with a plan to defeat ISIS.
Obama does the wave in Cuba. AIPAC apologizes for Trump’s attack on Obama. And here’s who feels the squeeze when political ads hit the airwaves.
Here are your must-reads:
Donald Trump Wins in Arizona as Ted Cruz Takes Utah
As the race moves west, the GOP race shows no sign of letting up [TIME]
How the Brussels Attacks Could Affect the 2016 Election
At least for a day, TIME’s Philip Elliott explains
Postcard from Havana: Beisbol, Sunglasses and Cream of Mojito
Obama’s Cuba trip was a bright scene shaded by the wariness of the Castro government [Politico]
President Obama Outlines Path Forward for Cuba
TIME’s Maya Rhodan on the historic address
Cruz’s Call to ‘Patrol and Secure Muslim Neighborhoods’ Spurs Outrage
Candidate calls critics ‘politically correct’ [Washington Post]
“Right now Kasich’s role is really being a spoiler” — Ted Cruz in an interview with CNN Wednesday
“We need unpredictability.” — Donald Trump in an interview with Bloomberg on what’s needed by a president to confront ISIS and why he calls for ending the torture ban
Bits and Bites
Club for Growth Endorses Ted Cruz [Politico]
Donald Trump Threatens Ted Cruz’s Wife, Eliciting Angry Retort [New York Times]
Gary Johnson Says Libertarians Will Welcome GOP Interlopers — And Then Crush Them [Wall Street Journal]
AIPAC’s Apology for Trump Speech Is Unprecedented [Washington Post]
When Political Ads Come to Town, Car Dealers Feel the Squeeze [Wall Street Journal]