LAS VEGAS — With his big win in Nevada, Donald Trump claimed a third straight commanding victory in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Marco Rubio edged Ted Cruz in a tight race for second that offered little evidence Republicans are ready to unite behind one strong alternative to the New York billionaire.
The contenders now head into Super Tuesday, the largest one-day delegate prize of the nomination fight, and Trump is predicting that the relative civility between Rubio and himself may soon fray.
“So far he’s been very nice and I think I’ve been very nice to him,” he told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday. “We haven’t been in that mode yet but probably it’ll happen.” He meant attack mode.
Trump picked up his first endorsements from current members of Congress even as much of the GOP establishment rallies behind Rubio. Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Chris Collins of New York praised Trump as a strong leader.
He’s got “the guts and the fortitude” to help U.S. companies compete with China and to take on foreign threats such as the Islamic State group and North Korea, Collins said.
With victories now under his belt in the West, South and Northeast, a gleeful Trump is oozing even more confidence than usual that the GOP nomination is within reach.
“It’s going to be an amazing two months,” he told a raucous crowd at a Las Vegas casino Tuesday night. “We might not even need the two months, folks, to be honest.”
Trump’s rivals know they are running out of time to stop him.
Behind Trump, Rubio beat Cruz by fewer than 2,000 votes, according to The Associated Press vote count.
Also on the “Today” show, Rubio said most Republicans don’t want Trump to be their nominee for president.
“The sooner we can get this race narrowed, I think the easier it’s going to be to stop Donald Trump, he said. After finishing third in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and second in South Carolina and Nevada, Rubio needs a win soon to support the idea he can beat Trump.