Minnesota results could defy Super Tuesday trend
Normally an afterthought in the presidential nomination chase, Minnesota voters swarmed to caucuses on Tuesday after drawing last-minute visits from Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders hoped for a boost from the caucus format for a northern-state victory as Clinton dominated the South.
Results trickled in slowly amid heavy turnout, with Sanders and Rubio holding leads after early returns.
Sanders spent more time in Minnesota than any other candidate, rallying in the state's most liberal pockets in recent days. Clinton largely relied on surrogates until zipping in hours ahead of the voting to visit a Minneapolis coffee shop and marketplace.
Chelsey McKinney, a 21-year-old Minneapolis resident attending her first caucus, was torn between Clinton and Sanders. She saw Sanders as stronger on issues she cares about like supporting Black Lives Matter, but she was drawn to Clinton's experience.
"He doesn't mince his words," said McKinney, who is black. "But Hillary Clinton, she knows politics. If she were anywhere in the White House, I would feel comfortable because I know that she gets the game."
Both parties predicted heavy turnout, and were getting it. At McKinney's caucus inside a recreation center, more than a thousand voters wound around staircases and hallways as they waited to cast ballots. Officials ran out of printed ballots and used scraps of notebook paper for write-ins, which the party said it would accept.
At a GOP caucus in the northwest Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove, hundreds of voters filled a middle school auditorium and the overflow was directed to individual rooms that also quickly filled. Countless pictures of caucus sites elsewhere posted to social media showed strong crowds.
The GOP field was hard to read as most candidates focused on other states. At his packed caucus-day rally in the Minneapolis suburb of Andover, Rubio urged angry voters not to support an outspoken celebrity in GOP rival Donald Trump.
"How did that work out for Jesse Ventura?" the Florida senator said, referencing the former professional wrestler turned Minnesota governor. "Jesse Ventura was an embarrassment."
At a GOP caucus in a St. Paul school gymnasium, Billy Todd a 52-year-old retired Army veteran who works in customer service at the Twin Cities Airport, wore a Trump sticker on his sweater. Todd said Trump "really loves America" and "knows how to bring jobs back to America."
"I want an outsider in the White House," he said.
At the Maple Grove caucus, Jon and Jennifer McCullough arrived early to set up a table with signs and literature supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Jon McCullough said the couple has attended events held by Cruz's father Rafael, a pastor, and said it gave them insight into how the senator was raised and why he is "so passionately in love with not only America but also the Constitution."
Like other caucus systems, Minnesota's rewards candidates with fervent support, suggesting favorable terrain for Sanders. Both he and Clinton advertised heavily in the state in the lead-up to caucuses.
Seventy-seven Democratic delegates were up for grabs in Minnesota on Tuesday; 38 on the Republican side. Both parties allocate delegates proportionally, meaning even losing candidates could pick up some delegates.
Democrats also have 16 so-called "superdelegates" — party bigwigs and elected officials — who can cast their votes at the national convention without regard to Tuesday's results.
-- Associated Press
Cruz says he's the one to beat Trump
Ted Cruz, who won Oklahoma and his home state of Texas, is calling for some of his Republican rivals to drop out.
Though he did not mention Marco Rubio or John Kasich by name, he made it clear that he felt they should drop out so Republicans could consolidate around him as a viable alternative to Trump.
He asked them "prayerfully consider" the future of their campaigns.
He declared that as long as the Republican field remained divided, Donald Trump would have a path to nomination, which he declared "a total disaster" for his party.
He noted repeatedly that he is only other candidate to win a state: he also captured Iowa last month.
Trump has won Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Arkansas on Super Tuesday.
-- Associated Press
Graham says party should rally behind Cruz
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says the only way to stop Donald Trump from becoming the GOP nominee and winning the general election may be to rally behind Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
"Ted Cruz is not by favorite by any means," Graham, a former candidate, told CBS News on Super Tuesday, when a dozen states held contests to choose party nominees. "But we may be in a position where rallying around Ted Cruz is the only way to stop Donald Trump and I'm not so sure that would work."
Graham called both Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton "crazy" and said the Republican party is bound to lose to Clinton if an alternative to Trump is not found.
He joked that his comments should be taken with a grain of salt since his own presidential campaign did not get off the ground.
-- Associated Press
NBC News projects Clinton winner of Massachusetts Democratic primary, no word from AP yet.
AP: Bernie Sanders wins Colorado.