US Pacific territories select delegates for presidential race

7:14 pm on 13 March 2016

The Northern Marianas branch of the Democratic Party has endorsed Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination to contest the United States presidency.

In Guam, the Republican Party there met to select nine delegates to send to the party's national convention in July, although it did not pledge to support any particular candidate.

As United States territories, the Northern Marianas and Guam are unable to vote in this year's general elections, but can participate in the nominating contests to select who will contest the presidency.

In the Northern Marianas, Mrs Clinton won four of the territory's delegates awarded on Saturday, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders taking two.

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Photo: AFP

Guam does not hold a traditional primary or caucus based on preferential votes. Instead, delegates are elected directly at a party convention where the elected delegates are free to support whomever they choose.

Yesterday's convention, attended by about 300 Republicans in a hotel ballroom, heard phone calls, videos, and letters vying for their support from the party's four remaining candidates.

One of the frontrunners, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, highlighted the island's strategic importance on the fringe of Asia in a letter which was read on the caucus floor, while his wife, Heidi, phoned the convention, according to the Pacific Daily News.

Ted Cruz has talked about "a real shift in momentum".

Republican frontrunner, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, spoke of Guam's strategic importance to the United States. Photo: AFP

Another contender, John Kasich, made a live phone call in which he discussed veteran's health benefits, a pertinent issue for a territory where nearly one-in-eight residents is a military veteran, according to the island's office of veteran's affairs, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio sent a two-and-a-half minute long video message.

The candidate leading the delegate race, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, in a telephone call said he understood the tourism industry "better than anyone else who's ever run for president." Mr Trump owns a network of luxury hotels and resorts, none of which are on Guam.

"I thought it was very, very important to call in. I didn't want to give it to one of my assistants to do it. It's very, very, important if we can get Guam and the delegates. And I will never forget you people," he said.

The party members gathered then selected the nine delegates to send to the national convention in Ohio in July.

The delegates are not yet officially pledged to any candidate, except for one, Governor Eddie Calvo, who has endorsed Mr Cruz.

Earlier this month, the Democratic Party of another US Pacific territory, American Samoa, endorsed Mrs Clinton.