Cruz wins Maine, Kansas GOP caucuses; Trump takes Kentucky, Louisiana primary

Donald Trump reiterated calls Saturday night for Sen. Marco Rubio to drop out of the Republican race, saying he wanted to take on challenger Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in a two-man GOP showdown for the 2016 party nomination.

“Marco has to get out of the race. He has to,” Trump said.  “Man, do I want to run against just Ted.”

Trump and Cruz were Saturday’s big winners, each claiming two victories each --fresh evidence there’s no quick end in sight to the fractious GOP race for president.

Trump picked up wins in Louisiana and Kentucky. Cruz claimed Kansas and Maine. Cruz declared his win “a manifestation of a real shift in momentum.”

On the Democratic side, there was another divided verdict from American voters. Sen. Bernie Sanders notched wins in Nebraska and Kansas, while front-runner Hillary Clinton snagged Louisiana.

Sanders vowed to keep fighting until the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Turnout in Republican presidential caucuses in Kansas exceeded the party's most optimistic predictions.

State GOP Executive Director Clay Barker said at least 73,000 people cast ballots in Saturday's caucuses. He said there are another 6,000 provisional ballots and 1,000 absentee ballots sent to voters but not yet collected.

That compares to about 30,000 people voting in the state's GOP caucuses in 2012 and about 20,000 voting in 2008.

The party had 60,000 ballots printed this year and then warned caucus sites to be prepared to print more.

With the GOP race in chaos, establishment figures are looking for any way to derail Trump, perhaps at a contested convention if no candidate can get enough delegates to lock up the nomination in advance.

Party leaders -- including 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain -- are fearful a Trump victory would lead to a disastrous November election, with losses up and down the GOP ticket.

"Everyone's trying to figure out how to stop Trump," Trump marveled about himself at an afternoon rally in Orlando, Florida. At the rally, the billionaire businessman had supporters raise their hands and swear to vote for him.

Despite the support of many elected officials, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came up short Saturday, raising serious questions about his viability in the race. Cruz suggested it was time for some Republican candidates to quit the race.

Rubio said the upcoming schedule of primaries is "better for us," and renewed his vow to win his home state of Florida, claiming all 99 delegates there on March 15.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.