Republican 2016 hopefuls get emotional on eve of SC primary

The GOP presidential contest got deeply personal ahead of Saturday's South Carolina republican primary.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — The Republican campaign for South Carolina turned deeply personal on the eve of Saturday’s high-stakes presidential primary, as New York businessman Donald Trump eyed a delegate sweep and his Republican rivals jockeyed for a southern surprise.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the son of a pastor, evoked “the body of Christ” in his closing message while fending off allegations of “dirty tricks” in a state where most Republicans identify as evangelical Christians. At the same time, Trump allies took subtle shots at Pope Francis for questioning the Republican front-runner’s devotion to Christian principles. Ohio Gov. John Kasich continued hugging supporters, while Jeb Bush turned to his mother to help revive his underdog campaign.

Friday marked an emotionally charged day in the Republican presidential contest amid a growing sense of urgency. South Carolina offers the six candidates still in the race a trove of 50 delegates — and perhaps more importantly, momentum to help survive into the next phase of the campaign: March 1’s Super Tuesday.

On the other side of the country, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders competed for votes ahead of Saturday’s Democratic caucuses in Nevada.

“Guess what? There’s a caucus here in Nevada! We are here to win,” Sanders said at a rally in sparsely populated Elko.

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