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Trump wins GOP primary with Rubio, Cruz tied for second

STAFF REPORTS
Published on Sunday, February 21, 2016

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Donald Trump celebrates his second consecutive primary win.
 

Donald Trump celebrates his second consecutive primary win.

 

Donald Trump won the South Carolina Republican primary Saturday and strengthened his hold on the GOP presidential field as the contest moves first into the South.

The billionaire candidate won 33 percent of the vote, a double-digit lead he held throughout the campaign.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, freshman senators, were locked into the race for second, each tied at 22 percent of the vote with 99 percent of the votes counted. Trump won 44 of the state’s 50 delegates

Jeb Bush lagged so far behind (7.8 percent) he announced he was suspending his campaign. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (7.6 percent) was looking toward more moderate states that vote in March and Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a small group (7.2 percent) of loyal followers.

Trump continued his momentum with his second straight victory in the primaries and continued his surprising claim on the Republican nomination. The electorate’s frustration with Washington backed Trump by nearly 4 in 10 who were angry at the federal government, and a third of those who felt betrayed by politicians in the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton pulled out a win in Nevada's Democratic caucuses over Bernie Sanders. Clinton gained 19 delegates to Sanders’ 15.

Trump's victory comes after a week in which he threatened to sue Cruz, accused former President George W. Bush of lying about the Iraq war and even tussled with Pope Francis on immigration.

"This is a special state," Trump said, surrounded by his family, in a victory speech. "These are special people."

Rubio was hoping a top-tier finish could help establish him as the mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz. Rubio scored the endorsements of several prominent South Carolina politicians, including Gov. Nikki Haley, and seemed to have rebounded after a dismal debate performance two weeks ago.

"Tonight here in South Carolina, the message is pretty clear," Rubio said. "This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century."

South Carolina was the first test for Cruz of whether his expensive, sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation could overtake Trump in a Southern state, where the electorate is tailor-made for the conservative Texan.

"First, that conservatives continue to unite behind our campaign," Rubio said. "If you are a conservative, this is where you belong because only one strong conservative is in a position to win this race. Second, we are the only campaign that has beaten and can beat Donald Trump. That's why Donald relentlessly attacks us and ignores all the other candidates."

Clinton's victory came as a relief to her campaign, particularly after her blowout loss to Sanders in the previous New Hampshire contest. "Some may have doubted us, but we never doubted each other," Clinton said during her victory rally.

Sanders congratulated Clinton on her victory, but then declared, "the wind is at our backs. We have the momentum."

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 super delegates - the party leaders who can support the candidate of their choice, no matter the outcome of primaries and caucuses.

 

 

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