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CBS News: Donald Trump Wins Nevada GOP Caucus

This Story Was Updated On Wednesday, February 24, At 1:05 a.m. ET

LAS VEGAS (CBSNew York/AP) -- Donald Trump continues to win.

After a big win in South Carolina, the billionaire captured the Nevada GOP Caucus, CBS News projects, while Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were battling it out for second place.

Trump now has three straight victories -- in the West, the South and Northeast -- a testament to his broad appeal among the mad-as-hell voters making their voices heard in the 2016 presidential race.

Six in 10 caucus goers said they were angry with the way the government is working, and Trump got about half of those angry voters, according to preliminary results of an entrance poll.

Trump thanked his supporters, telling them "it's going to be an amazing two months.''

"Now we're going to get greedy for the United States. We're going to grab and grab and grab," Trump said.

The billionaire also thanked the highly and poorly educated people.

"We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated," he said.

Nevada was a critical test for Rubio and Cruz, the two senators battling to emerge as the clear alternative to the GOP front-runner. Rubio was out to prove he can build on recent momentum, while Cruz was looking for a spark to recover from a particularly rocky stretch in his campaign.

There are 30 delegates at stake in Nevada, awarded to candidates in proportion to their share of the statewide vote so long as they earn at least 3.33 percent. While proportional contests give Trump's weaker rivals a chance to accumulate delegates, proportional contests also make it difficult to catch up if one candidate runs up a significant lead.

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, there were rumblings of dirty dealings even before the close of the caucus.

There were concerns over reports of double voting at a troubled Las Vegas caucus site, the Republican National Committee said.

RNC spokesman Fred Brown acknowledges there have been reports Tuesday night of double voting, long lines and not enough ballots at Palo Verde High School. Some people were being turned away and directed to another location.

Brown says the double-voting problem appears to be limited to one part of a caucus site where different precincts have been combined. The party plans to compare the number of paper ballots cast to the sign-in sheet to determine whether any double voting actually occurred.

Other caucus sites appear to be running smoothly with no reports of difficulty.

Trump stopped by the school as part of his last-minute campaigning. With 30 delegates up for grabs, Trump was banking on a third straight win.

On Monday, the Republican front-runner did not hold back slamming a protester, saying: "I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell you that."

Trump also bashed rival Ted Cruz for what he called dishonest campaign ads, CBS2's Don Champion reported.

"This guy is sick there's something wrong with this guy," Trump said.

He was looking for a knockout blow to the only candidate to beat him so far.

"This guy Ted Cruz is the single biggest liar I've ever dealt with in my life, I mean it," Trump said.

Trump and Nevada Republicans also warned that it's improper to videotape the caucus.

Trump sent a letter to the state Republican Party complaining that an unnamed Cruz backer was quoted in The Wall Street Journal advising caucus-goers to bring their cell phones and videotape the proceedings Tuesday evening. Past Nevada Republican caucuses have been roiled by allegations of improper behavior.

Nevada Republicans responded by confirming that it is against party rules to record the caucus proceedings.

"The Nevada Republican Party is committed to assuring the caucusing process is free from intimidation, threats or nefarious activity of any kind,'' the party said in a statement.

In the days leading up to Tuesday's Nevada caucuses, Marco Rubio's campaign office in Las Vegas buzzed with activity.

Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison was there, personally calling likely Rubio supporters and reminding them to participate. The campaign has been phoning voters, knocking on doors and organizing caucus training sessions for months in a state where the freshman senator from Florida spent several years of his childhood. 

"We feel like we're the best-organized campaign in Nevada right now,'' said Hutchison, who joined the campaign as state chairman 10 months ago and is working with staff from the respected political consultancy that helped propel Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to victory.

Rubio has received a major injection of establishment, money and support, getting an endorsement from former Sen. Bob Dole, CBS2's Chris Wragge reported.

The Florida senator spoke Tuesday night, during a rally at a western Michigan auto supplier, two weeks ahead of the state's primary.

He said Republicans must win the presidency and the GOP race ``cannot be about just making a point.'' In an apparent shot at Donald Trump, Rubio told a crowd of more than 1,000 that he himself didn't become a conservative when he thought about running for president.

Polls going into the caucus showed Trump with a double digit lead over his rivals, but Rubio said the numbers don't reflect reality.

"Seventy percent of Republicans don't want Donald Trump to be their nominee. So he's in the lead because that seventy percent is divided up against so many people, and every time someone drops out of the race we only grow stronger," he said.

Rubio said he would rebuild a "gutted'' U.S. military but de-emphasize the federal government's role in other matters, leaving those issues to state and local governments.

Rubio has framed the 2016 election as a "generational choice'' and told his Michigan audience that it's time for "our generation to rise up and do our part.''

Now that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is no longer in the race, it seems that he has no problem helping out former political rival Rubio's campaign. A Christie spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the former GOP candidate sold his email list of supporters and donors to Rubio, 1010 WINS' Steve Kastenbaum reported.

The spokesperson said the sale was not an endorsement for Rubio, adding that it's standard practice for other campaigns to buy lists.

Because Nevada's caucus model demands more of a time commitment from voters, takes place on a Tuesday night and requires participants to have gotten their registration in order more than a week ago, Hutchison and others in Rubio's camp hope what they feel is a superior ground game will pay off against Trump.

"The margin's so small in terms of what's going to make a difference in these elections,'' Hutchison said. "We just want to get as many votes as we can.''

Rubio is arguing it's time for Republicans to rally behind him as the alternative to Trump before it's too late.

"If we nominate someone that half of the Republican Party hates we're going to be fighting against each other all the way to November. We will never win that way," Rubio said.

Some Republicans seemed to agree that it's time to take down the front runner.

In an urgent call for donations to put an end to Trump a super PAC largely funded by the Ricketts family, who own the Chicago Cubs, said, "we are about to nominate a candidate who shares none of the values our party has held dear for decades and who will lead our party to general election ruin in November."

The billionaire businessman, meanwhile, leading in the few preference polls taken in the state ahead of Tuesday's caucuses, suggested recently a win on Tuesday is a foregone conclusion.

"Maybe I don't even have to go there and campaign, I don't know,'' he said with a smile last week at the Sun City retirement community in Bluffton, South Carolina.

But Trump showed another side in talking to supporters in Las Vegas Monday night, suggesting that caucuses are puzzling and saying "nobody even knows what it means.''

"Forget the word caucus, just go out and vote, OK?'' he said. "I don't want to give you an excuse. What the hell is caucus?''

Trump's efforts to build a get-out-the-vote effort in Nevada don't appear to match those put together by Rubio and Cruz, who won Iowa's leadoff caucuses on the strength of his ground game.

The real estate mogul's Nevada operation is based at two offices opened late last year and led by 20-something political operative Charles Munoz, who once worked for Americans for Prosperity, the group affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers.

Last week, a Trump surrogate declined to appear at a breakfast organized by the Las Vegas-based group Hispanics in Politics, apparently unfazed that representatives from all other major candidates were there. The group's president, Republican Fernando Romero, said he tried to persuade one of two Trump supporters he'd met recently to come to the breakfast.

"We're not running into any (Trump supporters),'' Romero said. "I personally have not witnessed it, and it's not like I'm hiding in a closet.''

"I really don't believe it's a good system,'' Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview Monday. "You know, I like to have a person walk in, vote and leave, as opposed to walk in, sit around and who knows what happens.''

After finishing in third place behind Marco Rubio in South Carolina, Cruz is going into Tuesday's contest without his communications director and trying to nix the narrative that his campaign plays dirty.

"This guy Cruz lies more than any human being I've ever dealt with," Trump said.

Cruz's ex-communications director Rick Tyler was asked to resign Monday for sharing a false news story on social media that suggested Rubio dismissed the Bible.

"It's every single day something comes out of the Cruz campaign that's deceptive and untrue," Rubio said. "Perhaps that was the most offensive one because they just made it up."

"I have made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity," Cruz said.

While Cruz's campaign dispatched the state's rising-star conservative attorney general, Adam Laxalt, onto the trail, and Rubio's campaign padded its long list of Nevada endorsements over the weekend with Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller and several state legislative leaders, the number of notable Nevada elected officials on Team Trump remains stagnant at one.

Trump has made several trips to the state, drawing crowds thousands-strong. Corey Lewandowski, Trump's national campaign manager, said he and his team are now focused on providing Trump supporters with the information they will need to take part in Tuesday's caucuses.

The campaign recently launched an online search page that allows voters to plug in their addresses and find out their caucus location, and has been holding caucus training sessions.

The enthusiasm for Trump was on display Monday night at Trump's caucus-eve event at Las Vegas's South Point Arena, which drew an estimated crowd of more than 6,000. While many surveyed in the crowd said they had not received any communication from the campaign, others reported receiving frequent emails and phone calls.

Several also said they had changed their registration to Republicans so they could vote for Trump and had attended a campaign-run caucus training session. John Galardi, 73, a Republican from Las Vegas who is retired from a construction company, said the session he attended drew between 40-50 others.

"I'm still a little confused,'' said Galardi, who has never taken part in a caucus before, but he said he's planning to attend so he can cast his vote for Trump. "I like everything about him. He's giving American pride back.''

John Kasich had an awkward campaign moment, saying women left their kitchens to support his 1970s statehouse aid, Wragge reported.

"We just got an army of people... and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door-to-door and to put yard signs up for me," Kasich said at an event.

His off-hand comment was quickly called out by a voter who said, "I'll come to support you, but I won't be coming out of the kitchen."

Super Tuesday is a week away, and voters in 12 states will turn out at the polls.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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