Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail Friday, storming into Utah with a rally in Salt Lake City that can be viewed in a full replay, as Trump makes a push to lock up the Republican presidential nomination before the part holds its convention on Cleveland, Ohio, on July 18. Trump hopes to avoid maneuvers by Republican party leaders, and other candidates, to block him from the nomination using procedural rules.
Trump currently leads the Republican field — now dwindled down to three active candidates — with an estimated 692 delegates. He will need 1,237, one more than 50 percent, to insure that he wins the nomination on the convention’s first ballot.
If he fails to hit that target, the convention becomes “contested,” meaning that delegates are free to vote as they choose, and that another candidate could assemble more than 50 percent of the delegate vote on a second or later ballot.
But on Wednesday, Trump said that he believed his supporters would cause “riots” if he were denied the nomination, assuming that he has the most delegates in hand, even if he hasn’t reached the required 50 percent plus one.
By pushing into Utah and Arizona, where both states hold voting next Tuesday, March 22, Trump is looking to solidify his lead and get back on track toward the target of finishing the primary race with more than 50 percent of Republican delegates already in his column.
Utah has 40 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday, and if one candidate in the three-way race among Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, is able to win more than 50 percent of the vote in that state, that candidate will take home all 40 of those pledged delegates. Otherwise, the delegates will be divided proportionally among the trio.
To watch a full replay of the Donald Trump Salt Lake City, Utah, rally on Friday, see the video below. The event is scheduled to get underway by 7 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, March 18 — 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific, at the Infinity Event Center in Salt Lake City.
Trump’s rallies have attracted protests almost every time out, a phenomenon that Trump does not hesitate to discuss at any of his rallies. To see how Trump dealt with that and other subjects at a rally in Ohio last Monday, watch a full replay of that rally in the video below.
Possibly to avoid protesters, Trump switched the location of his Friday Utah rally. He was reportedly planning to hold the rally at a state fair grounds, located in one of Utah’s more liberal-leaning and ethnically diverse districts. But changed the venue to the Infinity Center, a large dance hall and event facility, on Friday morning.
But protesters still say they will show up to oppose Trump, even bringing a Mexican-style piñata, designed to look like the New York real estate tycoon, and stage a march on the Infinity Center.
Authorities are reportedly concerned about outbreaks of violence at the Donald Trump event, according to a report by KSTU-TV News.
Republican polling in Utah has been scarce, and the fact that the state’s Republican party is the nation’s first and only to allow online, internet voting may throw off traditional polling models.
But there have been a few surveys taken of Utah Republicans, though none more recently than February 15. That poll, by Dan Jones & Associates together with UtahPolicy.com, showed Florida Senator Marco Rubio leading the field — but Rubio dropped out of the race on March 15.
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According to a polling average complied by Pollster.com, Ted Cruz leads Donald Trump in Utah with 22 percent support to 18 percent for Trump, and a mere four percent for Kasich. But those polling numbers may no longer be relevant and Trump will try to push them considerably farther in his direction by holding his Salt Lake City rally on Friday.
[Featured Photo By Win McNamee/Getty Images]