Posts Tagged South Carolina

Trump and Clinton Expected to Win Big in Super Tuesday Contests

Americans began voting Tuesday in what is deemed the most pivotal day in the presidential nominating process, with frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hoping to wipe out their rivals.

Voters in a dozen states will take part in “Super Tuesday” a series of primaries and caucuses in states ranging from Alaska to Virginia, with Virginia the first to open its polling stations at 6:00 am (1100 GMT).

If Democrat Clinton and Republican Trump an outspoken billionaire political neophyte who has unexpectedly tapped into a vein of conservative rage at conventional politics win big, it could spell doom for their challengers.

Hours before polls opened, the duo made last-ditch appeals to supporters ahead of a day like few others on the calendar leading up to the November election for the White House.

Trump’s Republican rivals, Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, were frantically trying to halt the real estate magnate’s march toward nomination, seeking to unite the party against the man they see as a non-conservative political interloper.

Clinton is riding high after thrashing rival Bernie Sanders in South Carolina over the weekend, securing an astronomical 86 percent of the African-American vote in her third win in four contests.

Should she win black voters by similar margins in places such as Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, she should dominate there to become once again the inevitable candidate.

That was her status at the start of the campaign before the rise of Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.

She was leaving nothing to chance, traveling to multiple states on Monday to urge a strong turnout.

Clinton also took aim at the increasingly hostile campaign rhetoric on the Republican side led by Trump.

– Scapegoating, finger-pointing –

“I really regret the language being used by Republicans. Scapegoating people, finger-pointing, blaming. That is not how we should behave toward one another,” she told hundreds gathered at a university in Fairfax, Virginia.

“We’re going to demonstrate, starting tomorrow on Super Tuesday, there’s a different path that Americans ought to take.”

Trump’s incendiary campaign has infuriated Republican rivals, including mainstream favorite Rubio who has intensified his personal attacks and stressed Trump would have trouble in a general election.

The Florida senator warned supporters in Tennessee that US media and Democratic groups will jump on Trump “like the hounds of hell” if he wins the nomination.

But Trump is clearly in the driver’s seat. He is leading in polls in at least eight of the 11 Super Tuesday states.

And a new CNN/ORC poll shows the billionaire expanding his lead nationally, earning a stunning 49 percent of support compared to second place Rubio, at 16 percent.

Cruz of Texas is third, at 15 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 10 percent and John Kasich at six percent.

Trump punched back against Rubio, calling him “Little Marco,” mocking him for sweating on the campaign trail and warning that he could not stand up to strong men like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, in which he has accused Mexico of sending rapists across the border, mocked women and the disabled and urged a ban on Muslims entering the country, would have been the undoing of a normal candidate.

But the 2016 cycle has been anything but normal, with a furious electorate keen to back an outsider who scorns the political establishment.

“I’m representing a lot of anger out there,” Trump told CNN.

“We’re not angry people, but we’re angry at the way this country’s being run.”

In the latest controversy, Trump came under withering criticism for not immediately disavowing the support of David Duke, who once led the Ku Klux Klan.

Rubio said Trump’s failure to promptly repudiate Duke, who has expressed support for Trump, makes him “unelectable.”

Some conservatives have said they will shun Trump if he is the nominee.

“This is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” said Senator Ben Sasse, accusing Trump of being a non-conservative plotting a “hostile takeover” of the party.

Trump supporters “need to recognize that there are a whole bunch of other people who say, if this becomes the David Duke/Donald Trump party, there are a lot of us who are out,” he told MSNBC.

If Trump sweeps the South, where many of the Super Tuesday races are taking place, it could be lights out for his Republican challengers.

Texas is the largest prize on Tuesday, and Cruz is banking on winning his home state. He trails in nearly all other Super Tuesday states.

595 Republican delegates are up for grabs Tuesday, nearly half the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination.

Some 865 Democratic delegates are at stake, 36 percent of those needed to win.

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Rubio and Cruz Tag Team Trump in Brutal CNN GOP Presidential Debate

CNN GOP DebateMarco Rubio unleashed a campaign’s worth of opposition research on Donald Trump in the final Republican debate before Tuesday’s crucial primaries.

The problem may be that it took 10 debates and three Trump victories to get Rubio fired up.

Rubio, along with most of the other GOP presidential candidates, has treated Trump with kid-gloves for months, tiptoeing around glaring questions about the real estate mogul’s business record, political ideology, brash temperament and ambiguous policy proposals.

Only now, with Trump threatening to pull away from the field, did Rubio aggressively and brutally try to dismantle the billionaire businessman’s grip on the Republican race, with occasional help from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Rubio accused Trump of shifting his position on deportation and staffing his hotels and other businesses with foreign workers instead of Americans. He also punched holes in the real estate mogul’s vague proposal for replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“What is your plan, Mr. Trump? What is your plan on health care?” Rubio pressed.

The senator also gleefully pointed out Trump’s propensity for repeating talking points over and over again, the same criticism that tripped up Rubio in a debate earlier this month.

“Now he’s repeating himself!” Rubio exclaimed.

Rubio’s assertive posture was sure to be cheered by the crush of Republican officials who have rallied around his campaign in recent days, desperate for the senator to become a viable alternative to Trump. But privately, many were likely wondering why it took so long for Rubio to make his move and whether his strong showing came too late.

Next week’s Super Tuesday contests mark the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. A strong showing by Trump could put the nomination within his grasp, raising the stakes for his rivals to stop him.

Rubio was sometimes joined by Cruz in tag-team attacks on Trump. It was a tactical shift for two senators who had trained their fire on each other in recent weeks, both betting that the best strategy was to clear the field of other rivals before moving on to Trump.

But Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses clearly changed their calculus. Trump dominated that contest, beating second-place Rubio by more than 20 points, and pulling ahead significantly in the early delegate count after victories in South Carolina and New Hampshire as well.

Trump appeared rattled at times as he faced the most sustained, face-to-face attacks of the campaign. Before Thursday, only Jeb Bush had made a real effort to tangle with Trump on the debate stage, though it did little to help the former Florida governor. Bush ended his campaign last week after disappointing showings in early primaries and a fundraising drought.

Rubio appeared to have taken lessons from Bush’s exchanges with Trump. The senator was prepared for Trump’s frequent habit of interrupting and almost willfully refused to back down when the businessman tried to talk over him. He also took a page out of Trump’s own playbook, lacing his more substantive critiques with some sharply personal attacks.

During a particularly biting exchange, Rubio said that if Trump hadn’t inherited family money, he would be “selling watches in Manhattan.”

Trump punched back with trademark insults.

After Rubio criticized his hiring practices, the businessman said, “You haven’t hired one person, you liar.” And when Cruz challenged Trump’s conservative credentials by suggesting he’s been too cozy with Democrats, the front-runner ripped the senator for being loathed by many of his Senate colleagues.

“You get along with nobody,” Trump said. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

At times, the three-way fight between Trump, Rubio and Cruz devolved into a shouting match, with each struggling to be heard, let alone make a substantive policy point. The debate moderators were virtually helpless, as were the two other candidates on stage, John Kasich and Ben Carson.

For Rubio, the squabbling was a long way from the uplifting calls for a generational change in American politics and heavy focus on his family’s moving immigrant story that have been the cornerstone of his campaign. Those were the messages that have set Democrats on edge about the prospect of their eventual nominee, likely Hillary Clinton, facing the telegenic, 44-year-old Cuban-American in the general election.

Rubio’s next challenge beyond topping Trump in at least some of the upcoming primaries, will be infusing that more optimistic message into his critique of Trump. He’s also likely to face the full force of Trump’s attacks for the first time in the campaign.

Even before the debate was over, Trump suggested he was eager to keep up the fight.

“This is a lot of fun up here, I have to tell you,” Trump said.

 

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Trump Storms to Nevada Caucus Victory

Trump NevadaBusinessman Donald Trump inched closer to the U.S. Republican presidential nomination after easily outdistancing his rivals in the Nevada caucuses Tuesday, giving him his third win in four early nominating contests.

Broadcast networks called the state for Trump almost immediately after voting ended, with the state Republican Party confirming the victory soon after.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida was in second place, with Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator from Texas, coming in third.

Trump’s decisive win is likely to further frustrate Republican establishment figures who, less than a month ago, were hoping that the outspoken billionaire’s insurgent candidacy was stalled after he lost the opening nominating contest in Iowa to Cruz.

But since then, Trump has tallied wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and now Nevada, with a suite of southern states ahead on March 1, so-called Super Tuesday.

“If you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win too much, and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country,” Trump said at a victory rally in Las Vegas.

Polls suggest Trump will do well in many of those Super Tuesday states, placing further pressure on Cruz, Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, another presidential candidate who was not a factor in Nevada, to come up with counter-measures quickly.

In the run-up to Nevada, most of Trump’s rivals left him alone, preferring to tussle with each other in a bid to be the last surviving challenger to the front-runner.

Not long after Trump’s win was certified in Nevada, Cruz’s campaign released a statement criticizing Rubio for not winning the state, but did not mention Trump at all.

Rubio, who has emerged as the Republican establishment’s favorite to derail Trump’s progress, can take some solace in finishing second. But that also has to be viewed as somewhat of a setback considering that he had frequently campaigned in Nevada, having lived there for years as a child. A Cuban-American, he had attempted to rally the support of the state’s large Latino population.

Rubio had also benefited from the departure Saturday of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, from the race. That brought an influx of new funds, a bevy of endorsements, and a wealth of media attention. But none of it was enough to overtake Trump.

As for Cruz, he is facing mounting questions about the viability of his campaign. After Cruz’s Iowa win, Trump has made serious inroads among his core base of conservative supporters, draining anti-government hardliners and evangelicals.

Cruz attempted to appeal to Nevada’s fierce libertarian wing, appealing directly to those who supported local rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed protest against the federal government in 2014 and a similar more recent one staged by Bundy’s sons at a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. But that, too, was not enough.

The upcoming March 1 primary in his home state of Texas is looming as a make-or-break moment for him.

Despite early reports on social media of procedural irregularities at many Nevada caucus sites, the Republican National Committee and the party’s state chapter said voting ran smoothly. Higher-than-normal turnout was reported, although historically, few of the state’s citizens participate in the Republican caucus.

Nevada’s contest had been viewed as a test of whether Trump had organizational might to match his star power. Unlike primaries, caucuses are more dependent on the abilities of campaigns to motivate supporters to participate. Trump’s failure to do that in Iowa was viewed as contributing to his defeat there.

He had no such problems in Nevada. And he is expected to win the bulk of Nevada’s 30 delegates, That would give him more than 80 before February ends, dwarfing the tallies of Cruz and Rubio.

While more than 1,200 are needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has built a formidable head start.

 

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Trump and Clinton Scores Impressive Wins in South Carolina

Trump and ClintonDonald Trump scored a resounding victory in South Carolina’s Republican primary Saturday, deepening his hold on the GOP presidential field as the race headed into the South. “Let’s put this thing away,” he shouted to cheering supporters.

Out West, Hillary Clinton pulled out a crucial win over Bernie Sanders in Nevada’s Democratic caucuses, easing the rising anxieties of her backers. At a raucous victory rally in Las Vegas, she lavished praise on her supporters and declared, “This one is for you.”

The victories put Clinton and Trump in strong positions as the 2016 presidential election advanced toward the March 1 Super Tuesday contests, a delegate-rich voting bonanza. But South Carolina marked the end for Jeb Bush, the one-time Republican front-runner and member of a prominent political family, who withdrew from the race.

“I firmly believe the American people must entrust this office to someone who understands that whoever holds it is a servant, not the master,” Bush told supporters in an emotional speech.

South Carolina marked Trump’s second straight victory this one by 10 points and strengthened his unexpected claim on the GOP nomination. No Republican in recent times has won New Hampshire and South Carolina and then failed to win the nomination.

“There’s nothing easy about running for president,” Trump said at his victory rally. “It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean, it’s vicious. It’s beautiful when you win it’s beautiful.”

Marco Rubio edged out Ted Cruz for second place, according to complete but unofficial results. Bush and others lagged far behind.

“This has become a three-person race,” Rubio declared.

Cruz harked back to his win in the leadoff Iowa caucuses as a sign he was best positioned to take down Trump. He urged conservatives to rally around his campaign, saying pointedly, “We are the only candidate who has beaten and can beat Donald Trump.”

For both parties, the 2016 election has laid bare voters’ anger with the political establishment. The public mood has upended the usual political order, giving Sanders and Trump openings while leaving more traditional candidates scrambling to find their footing.

Trump’s victory comes after a week in which he threatened to sue one rival, accused former President George W. Bush of lying about the Iraq war and even tussled with Pope Francis on immigration. His victory was another sign that the conventional rules of politics often don’t apply to the brash billionaire.

He was backed by nearly 4 in 10 of those who were angry at the federal government, and a third of those who felt betrayed by politicians in the Republican Party.

For Cruz, despite his confident words, South Carolina must have been something of a disappointment. The state was his first test of whether his expensive, sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation could overtake Trump in a Southern state, where the electorate seemed tailor-made for the Texas senator.

Florida’s Rubio used his top-tier finish to bill himself as the mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz, candidates many GOP leaders believe are unelectable in November.

South Carolina was the final disappointment for Bush, who campaigned alongside members of his famous family, which remains popular in the state. Though he was once considered the front-runner for the GOP nomination, new fundraising reports out Saturday showed that donations to his super PAC had largely stalled.

Also in the mix was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had low expectations in South Carolina and was looking toward more moderate states that vote later in March. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson vowed to stay in the race, despite a single-digit showing.

The crowded Republican contest was a contrast to the head-to-head face-off among Democrats. Clinton has emerged as a favorite of those seeking an experienced political hand, while Sanders is attracting young voters and others drawn to his call of a political and economic revolution.

The Nevada results highlighted Clinton’s strength with black voters, a crucial Democratic electorate in the next contest in South Carolina, as well as several Super Tuesday states. The Hispanic vote was closely divided between Sanders and Clinton.

According to the entrance polls, Clinton was backed by a majority of women, college-educated voters, those with annual incomes over $100,000, moderates, voters aged 45 and older and non-white voters. Sanders did best with men, voters under 45 and those less affluent and educated.

The former secretary of state captured the backing of voters who said electability and experience were important. But in a continuing sign of her vulnerability, Sanders did best with voters looking for a candidate who is caring and honest.

Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victory, but then declared that “the wind is at our backs. We have the momentum.” With a vast network of small donors, Sanders has the financial resources to stay in the race for months.

Clinton’s win means she will pick up at least 19 of Nevada’s 35 delegates. She already holds a sizeable lead in the delegate count based largely on her support from superdelegates, the party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice, no matter the primaries and caucuses.

Trump won a majority of the delegates in South Carolina and he had a chance to win them all. With votes still being tabulated, he was projected to win at least 38 of the 50 at stake.

Democrats and Republicans will swap locations in the coming days. The GOP holds its caucus in Nevada on Tuesday, while Democrats face off in South Carolina on Feb. 27.

 

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Jeb Finally Embraces Bush Name in Last-Ditch Bid to Save Campaign

JebGeorge W. Bush won a bruising South Carolina presidential primary on his way to the Oval Office, as his father did before him.

Now it’s his brother’s turn, and for Jeb Bush, the most consequential foreign policy decisions of his brother’s tenure are suddenly front-and-center in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination thanks to Donald Trump.

The 43rd president already had announced plans to campaign for his younger brother Monday in South Carolina, marking his most direct entry into the 2016 race to date, when Trump, the GOP front-runner, used the final debate before the state’s Feb. 20 primary as an opportunity to excoriate George W. Bush’s performance as commander in chief.

The former president, Trump said, ignored “the advice of his CIA” and “destabilized the Middle East” by invading Iraq on dubious claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

“I want to tell you: They lied,” Trump said. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction. … And they knew there were none.”

Trump dismissed Jeb Bush’s suggestion that George W. Bush built a “security apparatus to keep us safe” after the 9/11 attacks.

“The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign,” Trump said, adding: “That’s not keeping us safe.”

The onslaught “blood sport” for Trump, Jeb said was the latest example of the billionaire businessman’s penchant for mocking his rival as a weak, privileged instrument of the Republican Party establishment.

But the exchange also highlighted the former Florida governor’s embrace of his family name as he jockeys with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to emerge from South Carolina as the clear challenger to Trump, who won the New Hampshire primary, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the victor in Iowa’s caucuses.

The approach takes away from Bush’s months-long insistence that he’s running as “my own man,” but could be a perfect fit for South Carolina. “The Bush name is golden in my state,” says South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who ended his White House run in December and endorsed Jeb Bush in January.

George W. Bush retains wide appeal among Republicans, from evangelicals and business leaders to military veterans. All are prominent in South Carolina, with Bush campaign aide Brett Doster going so far as to say that George W. Bush is “the most popular Republican alive.”

After the debate, some Republicans again suggested Trump had gone too far. Bush wasn’t alone on stage leaping to his brother’s defense, with Rubio coming back to the moment to say, “I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore.”

The attack on George W. Bush carries risk for Trump, given the Bush family’s long social and political ties in South Carolina and the state’s hawkish national security bent, bolstered by more than a half-dozen military installations and a sizable population of veterans who choose to retire in the state.

Bush and his backers certainly hope it’s the case. Right to Rise USA, a super political action committee backing Bush, is airing two television ads blasting Trump and touting Bush for taking him on, and on Friday, a committee spokesman says, a radio ad will launch that compiles multiple audio clips of Trump using profanity in public settings, most recently when he used an uncouth epithet about Cruz.

“The time is now for South Carolina to end the Trump charade,” an announcer says.

Yet Trump has repeatedly defied predictions that his comments might threaten his perch atop the field.

As he jousted Saturday with Trump, Jeb Bush said, “this is not about my family or his family.”

But the Bushes have quite a history in South Carolina. In 2000, George W. Bush beat John McCain in a nasty contest, marred by rumors that McCain had an illegitimate black child. McCain adopted a child from Bangladesh. George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, won twice here, beating Bob Dole in 1988 and demolishing Pat Buchanan in 1992.

One of the elder Bush’s top strategists, Lee Atwater, hailed from South Carolina. Last week, Jeb Bush touted the endorsement of Iris Campbell, the widow of former South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell, a national co-chairman of previous Bush presidential campaigns.

Yet even as he defended his brother’s presidency at Saturday’s debate, Jeb Bush found a way to distance himself from George W. Bush’s business affairs and criticized Trump at the same time. The issue: eminent domain.

Before entering politics, George W. Bush was part-owner of the Texas Rangers, and their home city of Arlington, Texas, used eminent domain to take private land and build a stadium for the team. Trump has defended such uses of eminent domain as a way to foster economic development.

Retorted Bush, who argued eminent domain should be reserved for public infrastructure projects, “There is all sorts of intrigue about where I disagree with my brother. There would be one right there.”

 

 

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Clinton and Sanders Clash Over Obama During Democratic Debate

Bernie and HIllary PBSHillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled for the crucial backing of black and Hispanic voters in Thursday night’s Democratic debate and clashed heatedly over their support for Barack Obama as the presidential race shifted toward states with more minority voters.

Clinton, who has cast herself as the rightful heir to Obama’s legacy, accused Sanders of diminishing the president’s record and short-changing his leadership.

“The kind of criticism I hear from Senator Sanders, I expect from Republicans. I do not expect it from someone seeking the Democratic nomination,” Clinton said in a sharp exchange at the close of the two-hour debate in Milwaukee. Her biting comments followed an interview in which Sanders suggested Obama hadn’t succeeded in closing the gap between Congress and the American people,  something Obama himself has acknowledged.

Sanders responded: “Madam Secretary, that is a low blow.” And he noted that Clinton was the only one on the stage who ran against Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

Long viewed as the overwhelming front-runner in the Democratic race, Clinton has been caught off guard by Sanders’ strength, particularly his visceral connection with Americans frustrated by the current political and economic systems. Clinton’s own campaign message has looked muddled compared to his ringing call for a “political revolution,” and her connections to Wall Street have given Sanders an easy way to link her to the systems his supporters want to overhaul.

Seeking to stem Sanders’ momentum, her campaign has argued that his appeal is mostly limited to the white, liberal voters who make up the Democratic electorate in Iowa and New Hampshire. Clinton’s team says that as the race turns now to Nevada, South Carolina and other more diverse states, her support from black and Hispanic voters will help propel her to the nomination.

Attempting Thursday night to boost his own support from minorities, Sanders peppered his typically economic-focused rhetoric with calls to reform a “broken criminal justice system” that incarcerates a disproportionate number of minorities.

“At the end of my first term, we will not have more people in jail than any other country,” he said.

In one of many moments of agreement between the candidates, Clinton concurred on a need to fix the criminal justice system, but cast her proposals for fighting racial inequality as broader than his.

“We also have to talk about jobs, education, housing, and other ways of helping communities,” said Clinton, who was endorsed earlier in the day by the political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The candidates both vowed to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, using the emotional issue to draw a contrast with Republicans who oppose allowing many of the millions of people in the United States illegally to stay.

“We have got to stand up to the Trumps of the world who are trying to divide us up,” said Sanders, referring to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has called for deporting everyone in the country illegally and constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Both Clinton and Sanders also disagreed with raids authorized by President Obama to arrest and deport some people from Central America who recently came to the country illegally.

“We should be deporting criminals, not hardworking immigrant families who do the very best they can,” Clinton said.

Both candidates were restrained through much of their head-to-head contest, a contrast to their campaigns’ increasingly heated rhetoric. Clinton is mindful of a need to not turn off Sanders’ voters, particularly the young people that are supporting him in overwhelming numbers.

Still, the former secretary of state sought to discredit some of the proposals that have drawn young people to Sanders, including his call for free tuition at public colleges and universities and a plan for a government-run, single-payer health care system. Clinton said those proposals come with unrealistic price tags. And she accused Sanders of trying to shade the truth about what she said would be a 40 percent increase in the size of the federal government in order to implement his policies.

Sanders didn’t shy away from the notion that he wants to expand the size of government.

“In my view, the government of a democratic society has a moral responsibility to play a vital role in making sure all our people have a decent standard of living,” Sanders said.

Sanders has focused his campaign almost exclusively on a call to break up big Wall Street banks and overhaul the current campaign finance system that he says gives wealthy Americans undue influence. His campaign contends that his message will be well-received by minority voters, arguing that blacks and Hispanics have been hurt even more by what he calls a “rigged” economy.

Clinton was animated when discussing foreign policy, an area where her campaign believes Sanders is weak. She peppered her comments on the Islamic State and Russia with reminders of her four years serving as Obama’s secretary of state. Sanders challenged her judgment by raising her support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a war he voted against.

In the debate’s early moments, Clinton found herself having to explain comments by surrogates, including former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, that suggested women had a responsibility to help elect the first female president.

“I’m not asking people to support me because I’m a woman,” Clinton said. “I’m asking people to support me because I think I’m the most qualified, experienced and ready person to be the president and the commander in chief.”

It was Sanders a democratic socialist who would be the first Jewish president if elected who tried to drape his candidacy in a bit of history.

“I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well,” he said.

 

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Trump Crushes GOP Field – Sanders Delivers Massive Blow to Clinton in New Hampshire Primary

Trump & SandersFlamboyant businessman Donald Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points in New Hampshire’s Republican primary on Tuesday night, solidifying his status as the overwhelming favourite for the party nomination. Left-wing Vermont Sen. Trounced Hillary Clinton by about 20 points in a Democratic primary in which he had once trailed her by 40, establishing himself as legitimate contender.

The triumph of the insurgent outsiders was forecast by recent polls but unimaginable just a year ago. It represents a momentous affirmation of American anger at the political establishment and the state of the country.

“As a country we don’t win on trade, we don’t win with the military, we can’t beat ISIS. We don’t win with anything,” Trump said in a victory speech in which he called terrorists “animals” and suggested the real unemployment rate was 42 per cent. “We are going to start winning again, and we’re going to win so much, you are going to be so happy.”

“Together,” Sanders said in his speech, “we have sent a message that will echo from Wall Street to Washington, from Maine to California. And that is that the government of our great country belongs to all of the people, and not just a handful of wealthy campaign contributors and their Super PACs.”

Trump’s loss to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses last week raised questions about the devotion of his supporters and the preparedness of his campaign team. New Hampshire provided a resounding answer: he is for real, and he will be hard to beat. He holds big leads in the upcoming primaries in South Carolina and Nevada.

And his opposition is deeply divided. What happened in the race for second place is almost as helpful to Trump as his victory and almost as troubling to the Republican establishment hoping in vain for someone to take him down.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, widely viewed as the most electable Republican, had hoped to use a strong runner-up showing to position himself as the undisputed alternative to the polarizing Trump and Cruz. Instead, he finished a disastrous fifth, not only behind second-place Ohio Gov. John Kasich and likely behind former Florida governor Jeb Bush, two men he wanted to force out of the race, but also behind Cruz, whose religion-infused rhetoric appeared to be a poor fit for New Hampshire.

Sanders now confronts the challenge that could sink his campaign: earning support from people of colour, who favour Clinton by large margins. The states voting in the coming weeks are far more diverse than lily-white New Hampshire and Iowa, where Sanders battled last week to a near-tie.

Whatever happens next, New Hampshire proved that his message is far from the fringes. Sanders, a gruff 74-year-old facing a former secretary of state backed by almost the entire Democratic leadership, won a wide victory railing about the “rigged economy,” promising Canada-style health care, and calling for a “political revolution.”

“I’m just sick of the whole system. The whole thing is broken. The elections are fixed, and the American public is starting to catch on,” said Rick MacMillan, 60, an independent who voted for Sanders in the small town of Hopkinton.

Trump made a few concessions to normal political behaviour in response to his Iowa loss, scrambling to build a get-out-the-vote operation after months of neglect. But he did not change his unorthodox style or an inflammatory race-baiting platform that includes a ban on Muslims entering the country, a giant wall on the Mexican border, and the authorized torture of terrorists.

“This country don’t need another lawyer,” said retired police officer Bob Arsenault, 64, after he voted for Trump in Hopkinton. “He tells you how he feels. I’m a good ol’ Frenchman. I’ll tell you how I feel.”

Kasich, running as a cheery compassionate conservative, proved that there is still a substantial Republican constituency for civility and governing experience. But he will be hard-pressed to repeat his success elsewhere. While he held some 100 town hall meetings in New Hampshire, he invested only barely in other states.

Bush’s Super PAC has spent tens of millions of dollars supporting his candidacy, so third or fourth place is not especially impressive. If he had finished fifth or worse, though, he would have faced pressure to quit. He can now soldier on to South Carolina, whose most prominent legislator, Lindsey Graham, has already endorsed him.

The three candidates who fared worse than Rubio, former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might all drop out. If this was indeed Christie’s last stand, it was consequential. His Saturday debate attack on Rubio as a speech-memorizing lightweight sent Rubio into a panicked recitation of a memorized speech, a comical gaffe that appeared to cripple him in the final days of the race.

New Hampshire, a state of 1.3 million, has always been a unique political environment, largely moderate but with a rebellious streak. More than 40 per cent of voters identify as independent, and they often decide at the final moment which party’s primary to join. On Tuesday, it was not hard to find voters choosing between Sanders and Trump.

 

 

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