Washington (AFP) – Fresh from being soundly defeated in Colorado, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump took a swipe at the US election process Monday, saying “the system is rigged” and undemocratic.
Trump’s main rival, ultra-conservative Senator Ted Cruz, swept all 34 delegates at stake in the Rocky Mountain state, through a complex process at the state’s Republican convention Saturday and at a series of county elections.
“I’m an outsider and I came into the system and I’m winning the votes by millions of votes, but the system is rigged. It’s crooked,” the bombastic real estate tycoon told Fox News.
The arcane system in Colorado, which provides the state party apparatus greater say in the nominating process, is similar to those used in other states including North Dakota and Wyoming, as opposed to more typical primaries or caucuses where voters choose a candidate and delegates are allocated proportionally.
“You know, I’ve gotten millions more votes. Not just a couple, millions of more votes than Cruz,” Trump noted.
“And I’ve gotten hundreds of delegates more and we keep fighting, fighting, fighting. And then you have a Colorado where they frankly, where they you know, just get all of these delegates, and it’s not a system. There was no voting” by Colorado voters, he complained.
He also accused Cruz representatives of going to South Carolina, where Trump won easily, and “trying to pick off those delegates one by one” and convert them to Cruz in the event there is a contested convention in July.
“That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work.”
Trump has complained bitterly that the Republican establishment is seeking to block him from the nomination and have agreed to back Cruz as a way to do so.
Trump’s new advisor Paul Manafort, a veteran political strategist now in charge of nomination efforts, went further Sunday, calling Cruz’s strategy “Gestapo tactics.”
Trump is ahead in the race for delegates who choose the nominee at the July 18-21 convention, with 746 delegates to Cruz’s 538 and Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 145, according to CNN’s tally.
But Cruz is gaining, and his victories in Colorado and last week in Wisconsin made it considerably more difficult for Trump to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright.
If nobody reaches that threshold, the candidates head to a contested convention in Cleveland where — if the initial vote produces no winner — the delegates will be unbound for subsequent ballots and allowed to vote for whoever they want.
Cruz’s camp mocked political neophyte Trump’s anger.
“Senator Cruz knows the rules,” Judson Phillips, a Cruz supporter and founder of Tea Party Nation, told CNN.
“Trump’s doing the campaign on the cheap, Trump doesn’t know the rules, Trump doesn’t have the people in place who know the rules.”
Both candidates are focusing on New York’s April 19 primary. The state is Trump’s home turf, and he is well ahead in polling there.