NATION POLITICS TRAIL GUIDE

Ted Cruz wins Kansas and Maine; Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump take Louisiana

Welcome to Trail Guide, your host through the wilds of the 2016 presidential campaign. It's Saturday, March 5, and here's what we're talking about:

Donald Trump: 'I want Ted one-on-one'

Donald Trump, elevated by a pair of victories in Kentucky and Louisiana on Saturday, said he's ready for a head-to-head battle with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. 

"I want Ted one-on-one," Trump said at a late-night news conference in West Palm Beach, Fla., urging Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to exit the GOP primary after he failed to win one of the four contests Saturday.

"It's time for Marco to clean the deck," Trump said. 

Trump, who lost Kansas and Maine to Cruz, dismissed the latter outcome as expected. 

"He should do well in Maine, because it's very close to Canada," Trump joked, alluding to Cruz's birth in Canada to an American mother and Cuban father. Trump has questioned whether Cruz is eligible to become president because of his Canadian birth.

Trump emphasized that the Texas senator will be unable to best him in upcoming states and called on the Republican Party to unify around his campaign. 

"We should come together and stop this foolishness," he said. "The establishment is very unhappy with the way things are going."

In recent days, Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 nominee, and Arizona Sen. John McCain have assailed Trump as unfit to lead the party in November. 

Hillary Clinton capturing black support continues, as Bernie Sanders finds support of liberal whites

 (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

A common theme in the Democratic presidential primary continued on Saturday: Hillary Clinton claimed victory in a state where African Americans dominate the electorate, while Bernie Sanders found support in states where whites are the majority.

Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, won Louisiana's primary, widening her delegate lead against Sanders. 

Throughout the South -- from South Carolina to Alabama -- black voters dominate Democratic primaries and have overwhelmingly backed Clinton. Last week in South Carolina about 60% of the Democratic electorate was black, and about 84% backed Clinton. 

Meanwhile, it was Nebraska where Sanders saw strong support in areas surrounding Omaha, which are some of the more liberal pockets of the state. And in Kansas on Saturday, Sanders won the state's caucuses.  He bested Clinton in areas around Lawrence, Kan., and Wichita --home to large universities with younger, liberal voters who have backed Sanders in previous states. 

Trump wins GOP primary in Louisiana

Clinton wins in Louisiana

In Nebraska, Bernie Sanders wins Democratic caucuses

Bernie Sanders captures win in Kansas, according to Democratic state party

Marco Rubio takes third place in Kansas -- a common placement for him Saturday

 (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
(Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Sen. Marco Rubio barnstormed through Kansas this week with the state's governor and senior  U.S. senator, vying for support in the heartland as his presidential campaign has struggled to gain momentum. 

The result? 

He finished in third place. He also trailed behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (who won Kansas) and Donald Trump (who placed second in Kansas) in Louisiana, Kentucky and Maine. 

So far, Rubio has only netted one victory this primary season, which arrived on Super Tuesday in Minnesota. 

Rubio, a first-term senator, was viewed by many in the GOP as a transformational candidate whose humble upbringing and Cuban roots would appeal to demographic groups -- such as Latinos and young people -- who do not usually vote Republican. Yet he's faltered in his quest for the nomination so far. 

Rubio has emphasized that on March 15, when Florida's winner-take-all contest arrives, his fortunes will change. 

Still, an average of several polls in Florida show Trump with a double-digit lead there. 

Bernie Sanders energizes supporters in Michigan

Bill Clinton rebukes Bernie Sanders in Michigan, presidentially

Three days before the Michigan primary, former President Clinton pushed for votes for his wife, Hillary, telling campaign volunteers Saturday in Detroit that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had forwarded unrealistic proposals on college tuition and healthcare, two key differences between the Democratic presidential candidates.

In a lengthy speech at a labor union headquarters downtown, Clinton also mocked the behavior of the Republican presidential candidates and asserted that his wife has the best command of both foreign and domestic policy to grasp the job he held for eight years.

The former president isolated two major points of contention between Hillary Clinton and Sanders, though he referred to Sanders only as “her opponent.” (He praised both candidates — this time by name — when he later discussed their reactions to the water contamination in Flint.)

Ted Cruz gains momentum with wins in Kansas, Maine

 (Jim Cole / Associated Pres)
(Jim Cole / Associated Pres)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sailed to victory in Kansas' Republican presidential caucuses on Saturday, the latest win in his quest to secure the GOP nomination and blunt the momentum of front-runner Donald Trump.

Cruz also outpaced the billionaire businessman in Maine's caucuses.

Cruz's showing Saturday comes on the heels of Super Tuesday, when the Texas senator claimed wins in his home state as well as in Oklahoma and Alaska.

He's called on Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to leave the race, noting he's the only candidate who has repeatedly beaten Trump head to head. Saturday’s win will only amplify that message as Rubio and Kasich face critical contests when their home states hold winner-take-all contests March 15.

With Ben Carson’s exit from the race on Friday, Cruz’s aides say they hope to capture more support from evangelical voters -- who are the core of his base -- as the primary season continues.

UPDATE: This post was updated with Cruz's victory in Maine.

Ted Cruz wins Kansas' GOP caucuses

Trump asks supporters to take a pledge

Ted Cruz doing well in early Kansas returns

 (Michael Reynolds / EPA)
(Michael Reynolds / EPA)

Based on early returns in Kansas' GOP caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is leading the field of Republican presidential hopefuls. 

With nearly 20% of precincts reporting, Cruz outpaces Donald Trump by 48% to 25%. 

The Texas senator is trying to build momentum in Kansas after winning his home state as well as Oklahoma and Alaska on Super Tuesday. 

All in for Trump

Given the turnout, we cannot predict when we will have the final vote count tonight. 

Kansas GOP Chairman Kelly Arnold on turnout in his state's caucuses Saturday

Rubio: President Reagan 'nothing like Trump'

Marco Rubio mocked Donald Trump’s decision to skip this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference by joking that the annual gathering is “usually reserved for conservatives.”

Trump does not share conservative principles, Rubio argued Saturday during a speech to a boisterous crowd and then in a question-and-answer session on the CPAC stage with CNN’s Dana Bash.

Rubio said he wasn’t asking people to “vote for me because I’m angrier and over-the-top,” adding that conservative icon Ronald Reagan “looked and acted nothing like Donald Trump.”

The remarks came at the CPAC summit, the annual pilgrimage for the conservative grass-roots whose audiences are known to boo as often and loudly as they cheer.

Rubio brought a big part of the crowd to its feet at one point when he predicted that the next generation could prove the country’s greatest, but not if a Democrat like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is elected.

And that rising generation “won’t have a chance if the conservative movement is hijacked by someone who is not a conservative.”

Much of the crowd went wild.

Trump comes up, naturally, on the Gold Line

By the numbers

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