Rubio, Cruz jostle to claim ‘alternative-to-Trump’ vote

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., looks on during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) – Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are battling to emerge as the true alternative to Donald Trump, as the billionaire businessman took an ever-so-brief break from his trademark braggadocio to say his drive for the GOP nomination isn’t unstoppable – yet.

Fresh off a commanding victory in South Carolina, Donald Trump declined to say the nomination was his to lose. But he quickly went on to declare, “I’m really on my way.” Soon enough, in a television interview, he was toting up electoral math all the way through Election Day and concluding, “I’m going to win.”

The candidates’ diverging flight plans demonstrated how the campaign spreads out and speeds up now. Nevada’s GOP caucuses are Tuesday, and then a dozen states vote in the March 1 Super Tuesday bonanza.

Trump was in Georgia exulting over his latest victory, Cruz headed for Nevada, and Rubio embarked on a Tennessee-Arkansas-Nevada trifecta.

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