Protesters Clash in Utah as Candidates Battle for Beehive State

AP Photo

As the Republican and Democratic primary races drag on, candidates battled for the next state in their sights: Utah. Caucuses will be held Tuesday for both parties, and Republican voters will have the option of voting online.

Conservative Utah, where the antigay Mormon Church holds much sway, was the sight of tense confrontations between supporters of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and those critical of his confrontational campaign. Hundreds of anti-Trump protesters attempted to enter the Infinity Events Center in Salt Lake City where he was holding a rally on Friday, while police in riot gear blocked them from entering. Trump supporters who didn't make it inside the building verbally sparred with the protestors, many of whom chanted "Dump Trump" and "Mr. Hate Out of Our State," according to ABC News.

Inside, Trump took the opportunity to criticize 2012 GOP presidential candidate and current Utah resident Mitt Romney, who has led a campaign against him. Romney recently said he would vote for antigay Texas senator Ted Cruz.

"Are you sure [Romney's] a Mormon? Are we sure?" he said to his rapturous crowd.

Ohio governor John Kasich was also campaigning in Utah, brushing off Romney's support for Cruz. Kasich insisted to reporters he is the best candidate to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November.

But Clinton's challenger for the Democratic nomination, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, is not giving up, even though he trails Clinton in the delegate count needed to secure his party's endorsement. As the primaries move west, Sanders believes he has a good shot of capturing liberal states like Washington and California, as well as states like Utah, with few minority voters.

Sanders was greeted with a huge turnout for his rally in Salt Lake City on Friday, with thousands of supporters, many in their 20s and 30s, in attendance.


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