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GOP candidates in high-stakes chess match in South Carolina

Published:Thursday | February 18, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

SOUTH CAROLINA, (AP):

Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are locked in a high-stakes political chess match in South Carolina, strategically moving money and other campaign resources around in a bid to pull ahead in the Republican primary race, or at least keep their campaigns afloat if they don't.

The maneuvering comes as some Republican leaders fear Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will begin piling up the delegates needed to secure the nomination before one of the more traditional candidates can concentrate the support of voters turned off by the brash billionaire and fiery Texas senator, who so-called establishment Republicans believe could jeopardize the party's chances of winning in November's general election.

"We do need to get the field down to Trump, Cruz and somebody," said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee heavyweight from Mississippi. "New Hampshire tried, but it's clear as mud."

Indeed, the only thing that is clear heading into Saturday's South Carolina primary appears to be Trump's grip on the lead. Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, is also in the mix for a strong finish.