Clinton Takes Nevada, Trump Wins South Carolina

Jeb Bush leaves the race after a poor showing in the South Carolina Republican primary.

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Donald Trump barreled to 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 and Ted Cruz, a pair of freshman senators, were fighting for second place, while 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.

The polling of voters in Nevada and South Carolina was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected caucus sites.

Hillary Clinton was the projected winner of Nevada's Democratic caucus Saturday, overcoming an unexpectedly strong surge by Bernie Sanders and potentially easing the anxiety of some of her supporters.

Donald Trump was projected to win the Republican primary in South Carolina, according to NBC News. Trump emerged after early results showed him in a fight with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Clinton's win eased the rising anxieties of her backers, who feared a growing challenge from Bernie Sanders. At a raucous victory rally in Las Vegas, she lavished praise on her supporters and declared, "This one is for you."

Trump's strong showing in South Carolina marked his second straight victory in the Republican primaries and strengthened his unexpected claim on the Republican nomination. Underscoring the electorate's frustration with Washington, 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.

Trump addressed his overjoyed supporters just before 9 p.m.

He thanked his family, saying, “It’s been not easy for them. They don’t see me anymore — I’m making speeches all the time!”

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, a pair of freshman senators, were locked in a race for second place. Other candidates lagged behind, including Jeb Bush, who announced Saturday evening he was suspending his campaign.

"Thank you for the opportunity to run for the greatest office on earth. I love you all and God bless you," Bush said.

Cruz opened his speech by paying tribute to Bush as well as late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He then got down to the evening's race. 

“Right now we are effectively tied for second place,” he told his supporters. “We are the only campaign that has beaten and can beat Donald Trump.”

Rubio, speaking to his supporters, said he was confident he would emerge from the crowded GOP field.

"After tonight, this has become a three-person race, and we will win the nomination,” he said.

For both parties, the 2016 election has laid bare voters' anger with the political establishment and the influence of big money in the political system. 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.

For Cruz, even a second-place finish in South Carolina would be 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 is tailor-made for the conservative Texas senator.

Florida's Rubio was hoping a top-tier finish in South Carolina could help establish him as the mainstream alternative to Trump and Cruz. Many GOP leaders believe neither Trump nor Cruz could win in the general election.

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.

Bush hoped his deep family ties to South Carolina — his brother and father each won two primaries here — would be a lifeline for his struggling campaign. But if Bush was unable to stay close to the leaders, he was sure to face pressure to end his campaign.

Also in the mix was Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who had low expectations in South Carolina. He was looking toward more moderate states that vote later in March. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson had a small but loyal cadre of followers.

The crowded Republican contest was a contrast to the head-to-head face-off among Democrats. Sanders, backed by a powerful network of small financial donors, has plenty of money to stay in the race for months.

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.

The former secretary of state captured the backing of voters who said electability and experience were important in their vote. 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."

Clinton and Sanders split the first two voting contests, revealing the Vermont senator's appeal with young people drawn to his impassioned calls for breaking up Wall Street banks and providing free tuition at public colleges and universities.

According to the entrance polls of voters, 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.

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 outcome of primaries and caucuses.

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.

The polling of voters in Nevada and South Carolina was conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks by Edison Research as voters arrived at 25 randomly selected caucus sites.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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