Trump abandons conservative conference

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a rally at Macomb Community College on March 4, 2016 in Warren, Michigan.Image copyright
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A spokesman for Donal Trump said he had opted to attend two rallies instead of the CPAC conference

US Republican front-runner Donald Trump has dropped out of a major conservative political conference, opting instead to campaign in Kansas and Florida.

Organisers of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) said they were “very disappointed”.

Mr Trump was scheduled to speak on Saturday at the gathering of conservative activists in Maryland.

His fellow Republican presidential candidates are all expected to speak.

“Very disappointed Donald Trump has decided at the last minute to drop out of CPAC – his choice sends a clear message to conservatives,” CPAC tweeted.

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Mr Trump’s campaign team said in a statement that he will be holding a rally in Kansas instead, followed by a rally in Orlando.

The statement said Mr Trump looks forward to attending next year, “hopefully as president of the United States”.

The decision could further damage an already-strained relationship with the Republican party establishment.

Mr Trump was attacked on Thursday by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who remains a central figure within the party.

Mr Romney called the businessman a “phony” and a “fraud” and said his controversial policies threatened to make the world less safe.

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Later on Thursday, Mr Trump came under attack from his nomination rivals at a Republican debate in Detroit. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz criticised him for changing his position on various issues.

Mr Trump admitted he had changed his stance on issues but argued that flexibility was a strength.

Republicans in four states – Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine – go to the polls on Saturday. The billionaire has won 10 of the 15 states that have voted so far, with his promise to “make America great again”.

Election calendar: Next races

5 March: Kansas caucuses, Louisiana primary, Kentucky and Maine caucuses (Republican), Nebraska caucuses (Democratic)

6 March: Maine caucuses (Democratic)

8 March: Hawaii and Idaho caucuses (Republican), Idaho primary (Republican), Michigan and Mississippi primaries

15 March: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio primaries

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