Protesters blocked a main road leading to the Phoenix suburb where Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump staged a campaign rally days ahead of the Arizona primary.
Tempers flared at the rally, but without the violence that marred Trump’s event in Chicago a week earlier.
For hours, about two dozen protesters parked their cars in the middle of the main road to the event, unfurling banners reading “Dump Trump” and “Must Stop Trump”, and chanting “Trump is hate”.
Traffic was backed up for miles, with drivers honking in fury. The road was eventually cleared and protesters marched down the road to the rally site, weaving between supporters of Trump who booed and jeered them.
Trump was in Arizona to campaign ahead of tomorrow’s primary in which the winner will take all 58 delegates at stake.
Polls show him leading his rivals in the border state where his hard line on immigration has drawn support from Republican voters.
Trump was introduced at the rally by Joe Arpaio, the tough-talking sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and nearly two-thirds of Arizona’s population.
Arpaio has supported harsh measures to deal with immigrants living illegally in the US. He has forced inmates to wear pink underwear and live outside in tents during 38C-plus heat.
Trump’s main rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, are desperately trying to prevent the real estate mogul from accumulating the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination at the party’s national convention in July.
They are hoping for a contested convention in which delegates would be freed to turn from Trump if he failed to win a majority on the first ballot. He has won 678 delegates so far.
Cruz is in second place with 423 delegates, and Kasich is third with 143.
His rivals hope to offset a likely Trump win in Arizona with a strong showing in the Utah caucuses, where Mormons account for two-thirds of the state’s 3m residents.
Limited polling shows Trump running second to Cruz, but ahead of Kasich, said Jason Perry, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.
The delegates will be distributed according to percentage of votes unless a candidate gets more than 50%, which would give that person all 40 delegates.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee and the Mormon faith’s most visible member, said he intends to vote for Cruz in the caucuses, but stopped short of endorsing the Texas senator.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 19, 2016
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