Donald Trump stumbling in Wisconsin as forces combine against him

Donald Trump stumbling in Wisconsin as forces combine against him

The Wisconsin presidential primary is emerging as a crucial lifeline for Republicans desperate to stop Donald Trump's march to their party's nomination.

One of his worst weeks of the 2016 campaign is colliding with a state already sceptical about his brash brand of politics.

A big loss for Mr Trump in Wisconsin on Tuesday would greatly reduce his chances of securing the delegates he needs to clinch the Republican nomination before next July's national convention.

It could also offer new hope to rival Ted Cruz and outside groups that see Mr Trump as a threat to the future of the Republican Party.

"I think the whole country is looking to Wisconsin right now to make a choice in this race, and I think the choice Wisconsin makes is going to have repercussions for a long time to come," Mr Cruz said.

Mr Trump's view is rosier for his own campaign: "If we win Wisconsin, it's pretty much over."

But almost nothing has gone right for him since Wisconsin stepped into the primary spotlight.

Even before he arrived, Mr Trump was skewered in interviews with a trio of Wisconsin's influential conservative talk radio hosts.

On Tuesday, just hours before his first campaign stop, two-term governor Scott Walker threw his support behind Mr Cruz, of Texas.

Much of the trouble that followed was of the Trump campaign's own making.

Corey Lewandowski, Mr Trump's campaign manager, was charged with assault for an altercation with a reporter.

Then Mr Trump was forced into a U-turn on his assertion that women should be punished for getting abortions, a comment that managed to unite both sides of the abortion debate in fierce opposition to his statement.

"As soon as he stepped foot in Wisconsin the mask finally came off," said Jim Steineke, the Republican majority leader in the Wisconsin Assembly.

"Part of it is just the Wisconsin nice. We don't take too kindly to people who act the way Donald Trump acts."

A week before the primary, a poll run by Marquette University Law School showed Mr Trump lagging behind Mr Cruz by about 10 points - a dramatic fall for the candidate who led in the same poll last month.

If Mr Cruz sweeps all the delegates in Wisconsin, Mr Trump will need to win 57% of the remaining delegates in other states to collect the 1,237 he needs to clinch the nomination. So far, he has won 48% of all delegates awarded.

Wisconsin offers 42, putting it in the middle of the pack of primary prizes. But the state's stature in Republican politics and its position on the calendar - no other state votes until April 19 - have elevated its importance.

Though the state has voted for Democrats in the past several presidential elections, it boasts prominent national party leaders including Mr Walker and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Anti-Trump groups say they have benefited from the primary calendar, as rival campaigns have been able to focus narrowly on Wisconsin for nearly two weeks.

Planned Parenthood and Priorities USA, two groups working to elect Democrat Hillary Clinton, have teamed up for their first anti-Trump advertisement of the election year, a 30-second spot playing on websites that features his abortion comment.

"When it comes to women, the Republican frontrunner is demeaning, insulting and dangerous," the ad reads.

Mrs Clinton herself said: "Donald Trump is showing us exactly who he is and we should believe him. But let's remember this, all the Republican candidates want to make abortion illegal."

While Wisconsin may provide a much-needed boost for Trump opponents, the real estate mogul will soon find himself back in friendly territory.

The next contest awaiting Republicans comes on April 19 in New York, Mr Trump's home state and one of the biggest delegate prizes up for grabs.

Mrs Clinton, a former New York senator, holds a formidable lead among delegates but opponent Bernie Sanders hopes a series of recent victories in the West might turn into a springboard for a win in Wisconsin.

More on this topic

Donald Trump grants interview to Russia-backed TV networkDonald Trump grants interview to Russia-backed TV network

Trump and Clinton turn to battleground states in SouthTrump and Clinton turn to battleground states in South

Democrats rocked by resignation on eve of conventionDemocrats rocked by resignation on eve of convention

Trump 'showing lack of preparedness' on foreign policy, says ObamaTrump 'showing lack of preparedness' on foreign policy, says Obama

More in this Section

 Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak dies aged 91– state media Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak dies aged 91– state media

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak dies aged 91 – state mediaFormer Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak dies aged 91 – state media

Assange ‘handcuffed and stripped naked on first day of extradition hearing’Assange ‘handcuffed and stripped naked on first day of extradition hearing’

Vietnamese dissident Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do dies aged 91Vietnamese dissident Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do dies aged 91


Lifestyle

Kya deLongchamps advises us to research, plan and keep our heads during online auctionsHow to keep your head during an online auction

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s growing resentful of her widowed mum’s needy behaviour.Ask a counsellor: My mother is so clingy since losing my dad – what can I do?

Amid all the uncertainty, this year’s London Fashion Week has quietly set about its task of asking how women will dress for the decade ahead, writes Paul McLauchlan.The trends you'll be wearing next season - from London Fashion Week

More From The Irish Examiner